Like Chalk and Cheese: England demolish San Marino as Italy scrape through to playoffs

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England players celebrate a goal against San Marino

The Euro 2020 finalists have had starkly different fortunes in the World Cup Qualifiers of 2021. While Gareth Southgate’s men have been steamrolling one opposition after another, the European champions Italy have been tottering in their efforts to qualify for Qatar 2022.

England

The Three Lions’ clash against San Marino was a thoroughly one-sided affair as evidenced by the final scoreline of 10-0. The defending on display by the hosts was absolutely atrocious given that they gave away 2 penalties and an own goal in the first half itself, making it that much easier for England who were clinical in converting those chances.

By the end of the first 45 minutes, the Englishmen were already 6-0 up with Harry Maguire, Filippo Fabbri (OG) and Skipper Harry Kane, who scored his second consecutive perfect hattrick, making it to the scoresheet.

Unfortunately for San Marino, the drubbing didn’t end there as 4 more goals were struck against them, along with a red card, shown to Dante Rossi.

Starlet Emile Smith Rowe bagged his maiden goal for his country along with Arsenal teammate Saka who also managed to score. Tyrone Mings and Tammy Abraham were the other scorers, as Southgate’s men stomped on their way to Qatar with 26 points in the bag and a scoreline that appeared more like a video game than an international fixture.

Italy

The Azzurri met Northern Ireland in what was a must-win match for Robert Mancini’s side to secure automatic qualification. The game, however, did not pan out the way that the Italians would’ve wanted.

Though undefeated in the group, Mancini’s men did drop points in their previous encounters which saw 3 drawn games and were in a fierce race against a resolute Switzerland to qualify for the tournament.

The European Champions, however, failed to unlock an ironclad Irish defence even once, who maintained their 5th consecutive clean sheet at home.

This spells major problems for the Azzurri who will now have to go through the March play-offs for a World Cup spot. The play-offs have been historically unkind to the Italian outfit, and fans would be hoping for their side to elicit a superlative effort this time around, as opposed to their 2018 slip up against Sweden. 

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