England have qualified for the 2022 World Cup after their emphatic victory over minnows San Marino.
Gareth Southgate’s side hit 10 goals past San Marino to book their ticket to Qatar in style. Captain Harry Kane slammed in four goals in the first half as England went in at half-time with a six-goal lead – Harry Maguire and an own goal from Filippo Fabbri also sending England on their way.
In the second half, Emile Smith Rowe scored on his first start for England while Tyrone Mings, Tammy Abraham and Bukayo Saka also hit the back of the net in a rampant display – the last three goals being assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
It was a night to remember for England manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane
Kane hit four goals in the first half as England recorded an emphatic 10-0 win over San Marino
Emile Smith Rowe marked his first England start with a goal in the win on Monday night
‘It came to the last game and we were expected to win tonight but we’ve done a good job,’ Kane said. ‘Fantastic to go through.’
The Tottenham striker has matched Gary Lineker’s England tally of 48 goals after his four-goal haul on Monday.
‘Every time I wear an England shirt I am proud and when I score goals it is one of the nicest feelings I can have in my career,’ Kane added. ‘It’s nice to be among those names.
‘We still need to keep working. I feel like we have been improving year on year. We have to make the most of the time, every training session to fine tune the little pieces.’
England manager Southgate said his side can be proud of their year as the curtain comes down on international football in 2021.
‘I love doing the role – it’s a privilege. The team buy into what we’re doing, we can still get better and there’s so much to look forward to,’ Southgate said. ‘The qualification was earned away in Budapest, Warsaw and Albania.
‘I have to credit all our players and staff for a very good year. We cannot do anything about the level of opposition but the mentality and the way they applied themselves was terrific.’
Southgate reserved special praise for Kane, who is now five goals behind Wayne Rooney’s tally of 53 as England’s highest ever scorer, as well as Smith-Rowe and Trent Alexander Arnold.
‘If we left him (Kane) on another half an hour, we would have had Wayne Rooney’s family on the phone.’ Southgate said. ‘He is a phenomenal goalscorer, we wanted to give him the chance tonight and he took it well.
‘I thought Emile has given a good account all week, his tight control is exceptional and he has to continue what he is doing. We finished with a young side tonight.
‘For Alexander-Arnold to have an enjoyable England night is important. He showed his quality with a couple of assists and he will go back home feeling a big part of what has happened.’
England boss Southgate heaped praise on his players for their achievements in 2021
Southgate singled out Trent Alexander-Arnold for praise after the San Marino triumph
Southgate’s side were forced to wait until their final win of the campaign despite hammering Albania 5-0 at Wembley as Poland stayed within three points having beaten Andorra 4-1.
But the victory over San Marino put England on an unassailable tally of 26 points and gives the Three Lions another shot at tournament victory after losing the Euro 2020 final at Wembley against Italy in the summer.
Last Thursday, it was announced how the Premier League 2022-23 season will take a winter break to accommodate for the tournament in Qatar, which runs from November 21 until Dec 18.
The Premier League will pause on November 14 and restart on Boxing Day, eventually finishing on May 28.
The Premier League will pause from November 18 until Boxing Day next year for the World Cup
At the last World Cup in Russia, England reached the semi-finals of the tournament before being knocked out by Croatia in extra-time in a run that gripped the nation.
England boss Southgate is also on the brink of agreeing a contract extension to remain in charge of the Three Lions.
Southgate’s current deal expires after the World Cup but there is a will from both parties to extend that to until Euro 2024.
Sources claim there is an agreement in principle with the situation expected to move quickly once England have secured World Cup qualification. The FA have refused to comment.
Southgate currently earns £3million a year, but he can expect sharp pay rise taking him beyond the £5m mark if bonuses are reached.
That salary would see the Englishman close in on Fabio Capello’s eye-watering wage during his five-year stint in charge of the Three Lions. The Italian earned £6million a year.
At the last World Cup, England advanced all the way to the semi-final stage in Russia
Southgate is reportedly on the verge of penning a new contract extension with England