Dominic Calvert-Lewin at the double as England ease past San Marino

Dominic Calvert-Lewin notched up two more international goals as England kicked off their World Cup qualifying campaign with a predictably easy win over San Marino.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 10:13 pm

The Sheffield-born Everton striker doubled his tally for the Three Lions with a brace, on a night when Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins scored on his debut.

While a shot at European glory on home soil is just months away, the main focus right now is the road to Qatar and the 2018 semi-finalists took a simple first step towards next year’s tournament.

“I was really pleased with not only the way we moved the ball quickly and the interchange of positions, but the way we pressed when we lost the ball highlighted the mentality of the team for the whole 90 minutes,” said boss Gareth Southgate.

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England's Dominic Calvert-Lewin celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup 2022 group I qualifying match between England and San Marino at Wembley stadium. (Carl Recine/Pool Photo via AP)

“Of course it’s an opponent we should beat but I thought they went about their job really well.

“I thought the midfield players moved the ball really well. Kalvin Phillips, I was really pleased for him. He’s used the ball well but his athleticism around the pitch was good.

“Mason (Mount) in the first half was excellent, set the tone. Good to see Jesse (Lingard) look like he’s enjoying his football again so I thought there were a lot of good things.”

It was always going to be a case of how many England would score against San Marino rather than the outcome at empty Wembley, where Southgate did not get the ruthless edge he called for despite running out 5-0 winners.

Southampton skipper James Ward-Prowse opened the scoring – and his international account – against the side ranked 210th and last in the world before former Sheffield United forward Calvert-Lewin headed home.

Raheem Sterling, captaining the side in the absence of the rested Harry Kane, added a deflected third, which would be all England managed in the first half despite getting away 22 shots.

Poor finishing and fine saves from inspired San Marino goalkeeper Elia Benedettini kept the scoreline down, just as it did in the second half.

Jesse Lingard marked his international return with an assist for Calvert-Lewin, whose replacement Watkins coolly opened his international account as the clock wound down.