JOHN CROSS: Harry Kane might have reached double figures had he not been substituted but England still managed to hit 10 for the first time in a match since 1964
The scoreboard struggled to keep up as England sent records tumbling.
England reached double figures for the first time in a match since 1964 and it took them to 39 goals scored in Group I which is the most they have ever managed in a qualifying campaign. So much for boring Gareth Southgate.
At one stage, it looked as if Harry Kane might break England’s goalscoring record all in one night as Captain Marvel got four himself, drawing level with Gary Lineker on 48 as the third top scorer of all time just five behind Wayne Rooney.
It was embarrassing but still party time for the 3,000 travelling England fans as Southgate’s men booked their place in Qatar next year.
You would love to say it was a memorable send-off but it will live in the memory because of sheer comedy value against a team who looked more Sunday League than World Cup hopefuls.
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It was more farce than fairytale and will raise the debate over whether San Marino – 210th in the FIFA rankings and officially the worst team in the world – should be playing at this level.
Frankly, the pitch looked more like a cow field, the tackles were brutal and San Marino finished with ten men and hard to read into anything into such a one-sided game.
Other than the fact San Marino will remember it, England fans loved it and no wonder Kane wanted to play because it was an open invitation to hunt down more records.
Kane has now broken the record of goals scored in a calendar year with an incredible 16 in 2021 which is going some because he struggled during the Euros.
To get 48 goals in 67 caps is nothing short of remarkable and, with Kane leading the attack, anything is possible for this England team at next year’s World Cup finals.
This is a player hungry for goals, his heart set on records and he is the world-class centre forward rediscovering his form and desire through his love of playing for England.
Kane is also benefitting from the supply line of such an exciting group of players. Phil Foden dazzled and his ability against San Marino’s no-hopers made him look more like Lionel Messi.
Emile Smith-Rowe scored on his first start for England. Jude Bellingham is only 18 and yet up to ten caps. The potential is daunting.
It was a precession from the start and San Marino will be happy they survived six minutes before conceding. Foden’s corner picked out Harry Maguire and he headed in the opener.
More followed. Bukayo Saka saw his shot deflected in off Filippo Fabbri and the ball trickled over the line.
Then the Kane goal rush began after 26 minutes. Dante Rossi started his woeful night by conceding a penalty for handball and Kane smashed home.
Kane got another after 31 minutes following good movement by Emile Smith Rowe, the England captain got in front of Rossi before scoring with a scruffy finish.
Kane completed his hat trick after 39 minutes after Alessandro D’Addario handled the ball for another penalty. Kane smashed home. He made it 6-0 before half time with his fourth with a low shot into the bottom corner.
Smith Rowe got a seventh after 57 minutes with a close-range finish. He was England’s 18th different goalscorer in 2021 which just underlines the strength in depth.
Finally, San Marino were spared further punishment when Kane was substituted. But it did not end there. Rossi was sent off for a second yellow card and soon after Tyrone Mings made it eight with a good header.
Bellingham was denied a ninth by VAR, the scoreboard lost count and then Tammy Abraham got himself on the mark and Saka eventually got a tenth late on.