Wayne Rooney scored twice in England’s 6-0 rout of Andorra on Wednesday, a seventh consecutive qualifying win that pushed the team closer to the World Cup.
Rooney scored either side of Frank Lampard’s goal in the first half and his halftime replacement, Jermain Defoe, also found the net twice. Peter Crouch sealed the Group 6 leader’s seventh win from seven games with a late strike.
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England vs. Andorra
“We have shown in every game various progress and it was the same tonight,” said David Beckham, who started his first competitive England match in two years. “It could have been a difficult game, but we made it easy with the way we played. Tonight we can be happy.”
A victory over Croatia in the next qualifier in September could be enough to ensure England will reach next year’s tournament in South Africa.
Despite playing only the first half, Rooney finished the international season with 10 goals – the highest season total for an England player since Gary Lineker in 1990-91.
Though Andorra was by far the weakest side in the group, England’s victory still represented an improvement as it had been held 0-0 by the minnows from the Pyrenees at halftime in their previous two encounters.
This time, there would be no such difficulty breaking down the Andorrans, who are yet to earn a point in qualifying.
Rooney had already had a shot tipped over by goalkeeper Koldo Alvarez and hit the crossbar with a header after Theo Walcott’s effort was parried before the striker opened the scoring in the fourth minute.
Rooney timed his run well to meet Glen Johnson’s deep ball with a header that beat Alvarez.
“Always when you play against a team that is not strong, you have to start quickly, press and win back the ball. That is what we did,” England manager Fabio Capello said. “We didn’t start well against Andorra last time we played them, we didn’t score but we moved on, step by step.”
With England in total control, the ball rarely entered its half.
Crouch could have provided the second in the 10th minute, but his head made a poor connection with a precision cross from Beckham, who extended his England caps record for an outfield player to 112.
“Beckham was chosen because he is still one of the best players,” Capello said.
Alvarez, the standout visiting player, turned round Steven Gerrard’s shot before England’s relentless waves of attacks produced a second goal in the 29th.
Johnson released Walcott down the right flank and the winger cut the ball back for the unmarked Lampard to strike low for his third goal in his last four games for club and country.
“It was not as easy as it looked, that game. They just sat back,” Lampard said. “We’ve found ourselves as a group. We always knew we had the individuals but were not working as a team. You can see the results on the pitch.”
After Sergi Moreno produced Andorra’s one and only shot of the night, Johnson whipped in a superb cross that Rooney diverted past Alvarez in the 39th minute for his 24th England goal.
But Rooney wouldn’t get a chance to end his season with a hat trick, making way for Defoe at halftime.
“I decided, ‘Thank you very much, have a good holiday,”‘ Capello said.
The fourth goal did not arrive until the 73rd. Beckham, who had a low free kick saved just before the break, initiated the move, sending a corner to Johnson on the edge of the penalty area, with the defender’s cross being headed in by Defoe.
Defoe was on the scoresheet again three minutes later when Beckham’s free kick was parried by Alvarez and the striker was perfectly placed to pounce.
The 57,897 crowd, the lowest for England since the rebuilt Wembley reopened in 2007 due to a strike by subway workers, was rewarded with a sixth in the 80th when Crouch bundled the ball over the line.
“The fans deserved those goals because we all knew it wouldn’t be easy to get to the game and those goals and the performance were for the fans,” Beckham said.
England: Robert Green, Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole (Wayne Bridge, 63), Juleon Lescott, John Terry, Theo Walcott, Frank Lampard, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard (Ashley Young, 46), Peter Crouch, Wayne Rooney (Jermain Defoe, 46).
Andorra: Koldo Alvarez (Josep Antoni Gomes, 89), Josep Manel Ayala, Txema Garcia, Oscar Sonejee, Antonio Lima (Marc Vales, 47), Ildefons Lima, Sergi Moreno, Marcio Viera, Fernando Silva (Julia Fernandez, 79), Manel Jimenez, Xavier Andorra.