England cantered into Qatar 2022 as they hit double figures against San Marino to top their World Cup qualifying group.
The Three Lions roared to a 10-0 victory as Harry Kane hit four on a night where the gap between football’s elite and the minnows of international football was laid bare for all to see.
Here, the PA news agency looks at the main things we learned from England’s fine win.
1. Four-some Kane closing in on Rooney
Harry Kane’s four first-half goals saw him draw level with Gary Lineker on 48 for England – taking him just five behind Wayne Rooney’s all-time record.
The Tottenham man has hit 16 international goals in the calendar year, that in itself is a record, as his two penalties and smart finishes in a 15-minute spell killed the spirit of the home side.
Kane had been reportedly keen to start here having been on the bench in the reverse fixture and for both games against fellow Group I minnows Andorra and he certainly thanked Southgate in style.
2. Best form of defence is attack for Maguire
Harry Maguire was also retained in the starting line-up from the side that won 5-0 against Albania at Wembley.
The Manchester United skipper has been criticised for some poor defensive displays of late but opened the scoring here to make it two goals in two.
Maguire also moved onto five England goals for the calendar year and became the nation’s all-time top-scoring centre-back in the process.
3. When is a qualifier not a qualifier?
Rapidly falling out of love with watching international football barring the big tournaments. I think a lot of people feel the same way. Half of these games are absolutely pointless. A restructure is needed.— michael owen (@themichaelowen) November 15, 2021
The question surrounding pre-qualifiers for European Championships and World Cups will again surface following this humiliation for the hosts.
England Women have handed out similar thrashings in recent months and that has led to Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman to publicly suggest pre-qualifiers could be a good thing for all those involved.
One thing is for sure, Southgate’s England will face much sterner tests if they are to go all the way in Qatar.
4. Plenty in Southgate’s Arsenal
When the Premier League paused for the first international break of the season, Arsenal were rock bottom of the table.
Ahead of these November games, Mikel Arteta’s side were on the cusp of a place in the top four following a miraculous turnaround.
That was arguably shown here as Aaron Ramsdale made his debut in goal, Emile Smith Rowe scored on his first start and Bukayo Saka got in on the act by heading home the 10th – all in all a good night for those of a Gunners persuasion.
5. Still questions for Southgate to answer
With qualification now wrapped up, Southgate will be expected to answer questions he has so far batted away.
A new contract is reportedly close, taking him on to Euro 2024 with his current deal expiring after the World Cup.
He will no doubt be asked to comment on the human rights issues in Qatar, with defender Conor Coady stating the players would also talk among themselves about the situation once they had sorted qualification.
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