Gareth Southgate said England’s mentality was key to qualifying for the World Cup in record-breaking fashion on Monday after Harry Kane scored four goals in a 10-0 thrashing of San Marino.
Needing a draw in their final Group I qualifier to qualify for next year’s tournament in Qatar, England went goal crazy, scoring 10 goals in a single game for the first time since a friendly against the United States in 1964.
The victory was the Three Lions’ biggest ever in a competitive match.
Southgate’s side took the lead early on thanks to Harry Maguire’s goal, which was doubled by Filippo Fabbri’s own goal.
Emile Smith Rowe, an Arsenal midfielder, scored his first senior international goal in his debut.
After San Marino’s Dante Rossi was sent off, Tyrone Mings headed his first England goal, before Tammy Abraham and Bukayo Saka completed their country’s record-breaking win.
Kane’s 16 goals for England in 2021 set a calendar year record for the Three Lions, surpassing the 12-goal totals of George Hilsdon in 1908 and Dixie Dean in 1927.
The 28-year-old equaled Gary Lineker’s record of 48 England goals, with only Bobby Charlton (49) and Wayne Rooney (53) ahead of him.
“Harry is a fantastic goal scorer.” “If we had left him on for another half hour, he might have gotten it (the record),” Southgate explained.
“We would have had Wayne Rooney’s family screaming at us to get him off!”
Group prizewinners England finished their qualifying campaign undefeated in ten games.
In 2021, they have won more games (15), scored more goals (52), and kept more clean sheets (14) than in any previous calendar year.
“The qualification was earned away in Budapest, Warsaw, and Albania, and I have to credit all of our players and staff for a fantastic year,” Southgate said.
“The mentality, even in a game like tonight, we can’t change the level of the opposition, but the way we played was fantastic.”
Southgate’s men ended a memorable 2021 season on a fitting high note, reaching the Euro 2020 final in July and narrowly missing out on a first trophy since 1966 in a penalty shoot-out against Italy.
They will arrive in Qatar in 12 months as one of the main contenders for the World Cup.
“This is an excellent time to reflect,” Southgate said. “This is an excellent opportunity for us to reflect on the last few months, the younger players, and the experiences they may require in the six or seven months leading up to the World Cup.”
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England took the lead in the sixth minute against San Marino, who are ranked last in FIFA’s world rankings.
Phil Foden’s corner found Maguire, who rose highest to score with a powerful header, giving the defender two goals in two games.
In the 15th minute, Maguire’s pass found Saka, who cut in from the left side of the San Marino area and drilled a low shot that deflected in off Fabbri’s outstretched boot.
Kane scored a penalty in the 27th minute after Rossi raised his hand to get the tiniest of touches on Foden’s scissor kick.
Kane’s second came in the 31st minute when he guided Smith Rowe’s cross into the bottom corner.
Kane’s header was blocked by Alessandro D’Addario’s arm eight minutes later, and he smashed the resulting spot-kick high into the top corner for his second treble in two games.
Kane scored his fourth goal in the 42nd minute, weaving through the shambolic San Marino defense.
Smith Rowe scored the seventh goal in the 58th minute with a predatory finish.
Mings scored in the 69th minute after Rossi was sent off for tripping Conor Gallagher.
In the 78th minute, Abraham made it nine, and with England fans chanting “we want ten,” Saka obliged with a close-range header 60 seconds later.
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