San Marino Under-21. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0
SAN MARINO believe that a 6-0 defeat by England at Wembley tonight will be no disgrace, but the same score at Luton last night greatly helped the England Under-21 side raise themselves from their disappointing position, second from bottom of their European Championship Group Two.
What the prelude showed was nothing more than the expected. San Marino's young amateurs flowed in reverse from the outset and let England come at them in waves. These are the occasions when thought usually matters more than pressure, but it quickly became clear that it would not take a lot of invention to break down a defence facing several well-established Premier League players.
Manchester City's Garry Flitcroft did more than anyone to guarantee that San Marino were rarely able to cross the half-way line and two goals within a minute substantially improved England's record in the competition.
First, Richard Hall headed in when Ugo Ehiogu tried to be first to score but only managed to flick the ball on. A minute later Darren Anderton's powerful, low cross towards the near post saw Flitcroft turn the ball in. Jamie Redknapp spurned an open goal, but Anderton broke through a better defended one after 36 minutes when he met Mike Sheron's cross with a positive drive. San Marino's defence now fell back involuntarily and just before the interval, Anderton's corner was headed in by Sheron.
San Marino showed that they could be abrasive but not firm. Anderton enjoyed the challenge and, having had a part in the previous four goals, set up the fifth with a cross that Redknapp headed in.
Steve McManaman had played a significant part in building the comfortable victory and deservedly side-footed in the sixth goal three minutes from time from Steve Froggatt's cross.
The Under-21 team manager, Lawrie McMenemy, praised Anderton's contribution. 'Darren is on top form with his club at the moment and he helped us get over the crosses we knew we would need against this opposition. The strength of British football is that we have good headers of the ball as we showed tonight. This victory has made the qualifying league table look a bit more respectable.'
ENGLAND UNDER-21: Walker (Tottenham Hotspur); Jones (Liverpool), Small (Aston Villa), Flitcroft (Manchester City), Hall (Southampton), Ehiogu (Aston Villa), Anderton (Tottenham Hotspur), Sheron (Manchester City), Cole (Bristol City), Redknapp (Liverpool), McManaman (Liverpool). Substitutes: Jackson (Everton) for Jones, 72; Froggatt (Aston Villa) for Sheron, 72.
SAN MARINO UNDER-21: Ceccoli (Campo de Fiori); Casadie (Faetano), Bacciocchi (Rimini Caccio), Della Balda (Saglianese), V Valentini (Rimini Caccio), M Valentini (Rimini Caccio), B Gasperoni (Santarcangiolese), Muccioli (Massalambaroa), Zucchi (Damagnano), Mularoni (Calcio San Marino), Ugolini (Trae Fiori). Substitutes: Ghiotti (Libertas) for Zucchi, 74; Zanotti (Santarcangiolese) for Mularoni, h/t.
Referee: E Blareau (Belgium).