Danny Welbeck showed a fine finishing touch but Roy Hodgson will want more penetration from midfield against Poland
Aldo Simoncini is not the new Harald Schumacher – like Theo Walcott, he had his eyes on the ball and not the man. Their early collision was spectacular but seemed to be accidental, with each player as committed as the other. It should probably have been a penalty, though, which seemed to be the point Roy Hodgson was making when he rose immediately to his feet. And it was a bit of a hospital pass from Wayne Rooney. Walcott will curse his luck at having to give way to Aaron Lennon after five minutes.
The new-look back line could not have asked for a gentler occasion to start getting to know each other. Ashley Cole will doubtless be back before long but Leighton Baines is now a confident and reliable performer for England while at right-back Kyle Walker has only to stay fit and available to keep hold of the shirt. Post John Terry and Rio Ferdinand, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka look a decent combination at centre back, although the latter was embarrassed when nutmegged in the first half. Joleon Lescott will come into contention once he regains favour at Manchester City and there is still Chris Smalling to come back from injury.
England spent most of the first half-hour not knowing whether to go for pace or precision, sometimes trying to pass round San Marino, sometimes trying to step up the tempo and blow them away. Not much worked until Manchester United's Danny Welbeck got lucky with the penalty, lucky in the sense that most goalkeepers would have known better than to make contact. A couple of minutes before that Michael Carrick had hit the bar and Welbeck a post from the rebound, though Carrick's initial effort was from long range, as were rather too many of England's early attempts.
Welbeck's goal against Sweden in the European Championship last summer was obviously no fluke, because he replicated it almost exactly with a backheel finish for England's second from Lennon's low cross. Flashy goals do not count for a great deal against minnows such as San Marino, though with the ball played into his feet Welbeck can shuffle them quickly enough to trouble the best defences. He was slightly less impressive when taking a ball from Tom Cleverley on his chest at the end of the first half with his back to goal.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Arsenal winger, faded noticeably after a bright start, not something he can be completely happy about against San Marino, though he did score in the second half. It does not necessarily follow that just because the other team is mediocre England's bright young stars will fill their boots but Hodgson will be hoping to see more penetration from midfield in Tuesday's game against Poland and more constructive use of the ball. Cleverley played some accurate balls forward, assisted by opponents who gave him the time and space in which to do so, but Carrick was arguably England's most impressive and consistent midfielder.