England are now even shorter favourites for Group H after last night's thumping of San Marino. Luke Moore takes a look...
It was an expected cakewalk for England in San Marino, and Roy Hodgson and his charges put paid to any idea that an away game in San Marino is somehow a 'lose-lose' situation by smashing the team ranked 207th in the world in comprehensive fashion. If there is a question mark over whether San Marino should even be allowed to play in this stage of qualifying automatically, England will care a lot less about it now than they did before their trip.
Seven different scorers and eight goals in total means England travel on to Podgorica in buoyant mood and full to the brim with confidence, and, as my colleague Lee Dixon anticipated before the game, it indeed proved the perfect warm up to what looks like a very tricky tie which could decide the destiny of the group.
San Marino weren't up to much, but with a population of around 30,000 that was to be expected. The team from north west Italy don't even constitute a potential banana skin, such is their lack of quality and 0-8 didn't represent an unfair scoreline given how the game developed.
Roy Hodgson will be encouraged that there were no injuries or silly bookings picked up (although Scott Parker trod a fine line with an ill-advised, crazy tackle right at the death which could have garnered a caution); he has plenty of those to contend with already. It was Joleon Lescott and Chris Smalling's first time playing together and, in truth, there wasn't much to learn from their lack of exertion. Tuesday night will be a far more scrupulous examination of whether, in light of such injuries, this is a defensive pairing with legs.
Another positive from last night was that England's goal difference is now far superior to Montenegro's at the halfway stage in the group. In these short-form mini-leagues, GD can be all important and effectively worth an extra point.
England are now just 1.42/5 to win Group H, with Montenegro second favourites at 4.1n/a. It seems a pretty short price given that the Three Lions still need to travel to Ukraine and play Montenegro twice. England are rightly favourites for the group - their resources, individual players and confidence make that fair - but there is still plenty that could go wrong between now and next summer.
Concentration and togetherness is key, starting with this Tuesday.