England’s FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign started with a confidence booster as the Three Lions hammered lowest-ranked side San Marino 5-0 at Wembley.

Gareth Southgate hailed Ollie Watkins’ “fairytale” national team debut after the Aston Villa striker scored with his first shot in the game after coming on as a substitute.

The England boss said, “The first thing you saw was the reaction from the rest of the team. That shows you how together they are. They know what it means for him [Watkins].

“He’s settled in really quickly with the group. He’s a really humble boy and it was nice to be able to give him half an hour or so. For him to get a goal is fairytale isn’t it?”

England spent the entire game in San Marino’s half and the only disappointment for manager Gareth Southgate will be that they did not score more goals and lacked quality in finishing.

James Ward-Prowse

James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins scored their first goals for England (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Ollie Watkins

(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)


James Ward-Prowse scored his first goal for England after he latched onto a Ben Chilwell low cross to give the home side the lead after just 14 minutes before Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin notched up his first of two just seven minutes later with a header from a Reece James cross.

Raheem Sterling was probably the man-of-the-match with close contention from Jesse Lingard but what probably worked in Sterling’s favour was that he scored England’s third goal in the 31st minute.

England went into the break 3-0 up but it could and should have been at least a couple more. Jesse Lingard assisted England’s fourth as he played Calvert-Lewin through on goal as the Evertonian notched up his 2nd of the game to make it 4-0 after 53 minutes.

Watkins had the final say in the game as he came on and scored within seven minutes of his debut and make it 5-0 to England.

Credit, however, must also be given to San Marino goalkeeperĀ Elia Benedettini, who made a number of spectacular saves from Chilwell, Mason Mount, Lingard and Ward-Prowse or else it could have been much worse for the visitors.

England had 32 shots on goal with 15 of them being on target while San Marino managed only 2 shots and none of them tested goalkeeper Nick Pope in goal.

It was a positive start for the English who are on top of Group I along with Albania who they play next. Albania beat Andorra but you’d expect the Three Lions to come away with the 3 points here as well.

The real tests in Group I will be Poland and Hungary for England but even they do not seem to be much of a match for the mighty English who look much better than when they made the FIFA World Cup semifinals in 2018.