England Under-21s clocked up a record-breaking 9-0 win against San Marino as they impressively answered Gareth Southgate’s calls to show more ruthlessness in front of goal.
Fans flocked to a sold-out Greenhous Meadow hoping for goals and the Young Lions did not disappoint, racking up a win that usurps their previous best of a seven-goal margin of victory set in 1976 and 2009.
It was the perfect end to a tumultuous year and just what manager Southgate had called for in the build-up to the European Championship qualifier.
While keen for the team to play with freedom, the former England defender was frustrated by some of his players’ preference for the over-elaborate in Thursday’s 3-0 win against Finland.
Southgate called for a more clinical edge in England’s last match of 2013 and got just that in Shrewsbury, despite the absence of in-form Saido Berahino through suspension.
Michael Keane nodded England ahead after 13 minutes, with Raheem Sterling and full debutant Danny Ings extending that lead soon after.
James Ward-Prowse curled home a fine free-kick in the 24th minute as England’s dominance continued, with Thomas Ince extending the lead further half-time approached.
Ings just beat room-mate Carl Jenkinson to prod home England’s sixth shortly after the restart, although the Arsenal right-back managed a goal of his own after Sterling smartly lifted the ball over San Marino’s hapless goalkeeper.
Will Hughes showed great feet before slotting home to put England 9-0 up, wrapping up an impressive victory that keeps them in control of Group 1.
Last month San Marino restricted England to a 4-0 win with a defence-minded formation, which was easily overcome in Shrewsbury.