Wayne Rooney equalled Bobby Charlton’s England scoring record of 49 goals as Roy Hodgson’s side crushed San Marino 6-0 in Serravalle on Saturday to qualify for Euro 2016.
Rooney scored from a contentious penalty in the 13th minute, leaving him with an identical international record to Charlton of 106 caps and 49 goals, but he will have to wait to claim the record outright after being substituted by Hodgson in the 58th minute at the Stadio Olimpico.
England led 3-0 by that point courtesy of a Cristian Brolli own goal — ironically, the 49th own goal scored in England’s favour — and Ross Barkley’s first goal for his country, and late efforts from substitutes Theo Walcott, who scored twice, and Harry Kane completed a routine win.
England have now scored 37 goals in their six games against San Marino, currently ranked 193rd in the world, and will tackle Switzerland at Wembley on Tuesday seeking an eighth straight win in Group E, their place at next year’s tournament in France secure.
Hodgson used the occasion to award Jonjo Shelvey his second cap, three years after winning his first against the same opposition, and he took up a position in front of the back four on a dry, uneven pitch.
All eyes were on Rooney and he needed little time to find the net, tucking a penalty into the bottom-right corner after Marco Berardi had been penalised for an infringement that only Cypriot referee Leontios Trattou appeared to have seen.
San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini parried from Rooney and James Milner shot wide before England doubled their lead when Brolli headed Luke Shaw’s cross into his own net.
Own Goals, Wayne Rooney and Bobby Charlton have all scored 49 goals for England
It created a three-way tie — of sorts — at the top of the England all-time scoring chart, as ‘Own goals’ drew level with Rooney and Charlton, emblem of the 1966 World Cup-winning team, on 49 goals.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw a shot deflected over following panicky defending by Davide Simoncini just before half-time, but seconds into the second period he tore down the right flank and crossed for Barkley to head in his first England goal.
The stage was set for Rooney’s 50th England goal, but to the dismay of the 2,550 travelling fans Hodgson elected to withdraw his captain shortly before the hour, with Kane taking the Manchester United striker’s place.
Fabian Delph and Walcott also entered the fray and they combined for the fourth goal in the 68th minute, Delph drilling in a cross from the left for the Arsenal forward to tap in from close range.
Quick-fire goals from Kane and Walcott swelled the scoreline further as San Marino tired, the former coolly chipping Aldo Simoncini from Shelvey’s pass, the latter rolling a shot into the bottom-left corner.
San Marino substitute Danilo Rinaldi almost embarrassed the visitors late on, but after cutting in from the right onto his left foot, he shot straight at Joe Hart.
Walcott could have had a hat-trick, poking wide in the closing stages, but the headlines were already destined for Rooney, who will hope to stay on the pitch long enough to score goal number 50 against Switzerland.