History with the minnows

HOW THREE LIONS HAVE FARED AGAINST SAN MARINO, THE JOINT 207TH-BEST TEAM IN THE WORLD

There have been two previous fixtures between England and San Marino. Both were during the Three Lions’ doomed campaign to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in USA, even though both ended in six-goal victories.

Worryingly, there are several similarities between England – in 1993 – and Roy Hodgson’s team. Beyond the issue of qualification for a transatlantic tournament, there had been an underwhelming European Championship to precede the fixtures, an English manager – Graham Taylor (above, who came to be called Turnip), a new captain in the home game – David Platt led England for the first time – and an unrealistic world ranking; as now, England were fifth beforehand.

The first of the two matches was at Wembley in February 1993, and ended 6-0 to the home side after four goals from Platt, one from Carlton Palmer and another from Les Ferdinand.

The second was Taylor’s last match in charge. England won 7-1 but failed to qualify for the World Cup, prompting the under-pressure manager to resign six days later.

Stuart Pearce captained the team in that game, Stuart Ripley made his debut, and Paul Ince scored his first international goal. Ince actually scored twice, Ferdinand once, and Ian Wright four times, but that was after Pearce’s poor backpass allowed San Marino’s Davide Gualtieri (above right) to score the quickest in World Cup history after just eight seconds.

England were deemed to be the away side, even though that match took place in Bologna, 80 miles away from San Marino.