‘He doesn’t want to be dabbed on by Jesse Lingard!’: San Marino keeper Elia Benedettini is lauded by fans after his ‘masterclass’ against England with a string of top saves to keep the score down at Wembley
- Football fans hailed San Marino keeper Elia Benedettini after display vs England
- He made a string of great stops to keep the score modest at Wembley Stadium
- The Three Lions cruised to a 5-0 victory in the first game of World Cup qualifiers
- Some called his display ‘a masterclass’ while others tipped him for a big move
San Marino goalkeeper Elia Benedettini has been hailed by fans for producing a ‘masterclass’ against England to help keep the score modest in their 5-0 defeat at Wembley on Thursday.
England were comfortable against the European minnows – ranked the worst side in the world – but could have easily racked up a far bigger scoreline, with Benedettini producing a handful of top draw saves from Jesse Lingard and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
In the end, England cruised by in their first World Cup qualifier thanks to debut goals from James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins and strikes by Raheem Sterling and a Dominic Calvert-Lewin double.
Elia Benedettini was San Marino’s standout player as the keeper helped keep the score modest
Fans lauded his display as ‘a masterclass’ while others tipped him for a move to a big side
He left Jesse Lingard frustrated at Wembley, with supporters poking fun at the midfielder
ITV pundits claimed it should have been ‘seven or eight’ at the half time interval, and indeed it could have been without the presence of the 25-year-old, with some admitting their surprise on social media that he was not even first choice for a third-tier Italian side.
‘This San Marino goalkeeper is a really good keeper! Throwing himself about with ease pulling off some top saves,’ said one fan.
Another claimed the Cesena shot stopper – who is yet to play for his club since joining in Janaury – was ‘definitely trying bag a big move’, with a user calling his display ‘a masterclass’, adding: ‘@LFC, are you watching?’
Lingard was denied by the man in between the sticks on a few occasions as the on-loan West Ham midfielder desperately attempted to mark his run of good form with an England goal, but was left frustrated as he saw two shots parried away.
One supporter claimed Benedettini ‘does not want to be dabbed on by Jesse Lingard’, making reference to the Manchester United star’s classic celebration.
As the high praise for him continued on Twitter, one meme compared him with Germany’s Manuel Neuer – once seen as the greatest keeper in world football.
Benedettini greets England’s Nick Pope, who barely touched the ball, after the full time whistle
It wasn’t all plain-sailing having been powerless to watch England put five past him – including a weak effort to keep out Raheem Sterling’s effort to make it 3-0.
One player who Benedettini couldn’t stop was debutant Watkins, who completed every child’s dream of netting for the Three Lions on his first cap.
The Aston Villa star was nearly lost for words while speaking to the media after the game, admitting he was ‘over the moon’.
‘It’s unbelievable,’ he told ITV. It’s what I’ve dreamt about, being in the hotel today. I’ve just been hoping to get the chance and enjoy it, to get an opportunity to score and I didn’t think it would happen. I’m speechless to be honest!
It’s been a good journey [Starting at Exeter]. I just feel honoured to come here and put on this shirt and play with these players. To score on my debut, you couldn’t write it. I’m just over the moon.’
The goalkeeper was unable to stop Ollie Watkins scoring his first England goal on his debut
Watkins admitted he was ‘speechless’ and ‘over the moon’ after his dream Three Lions outing
Watkins insists he was unwilling to put too much pressure on himself ahead of his big day, claiming he would have been happy just to get a run out.
‘I just wanted to get on the pitch – I didn’t know if I’d come on. Conor Coady had a head clash so it looked like I may not, but I have had the chance and I can’t believe it. I’m grateful Ive had the chance to play here.
Speaking about his chances of making Gareth Southgate’s Euro squad, he added: ‘I’ve just got to take each game as it comes, focus on my club form, play consistently for Villa and help my team push up table and get into Europe.