To many English football supporters, especially those fortunate souls yet to reach their thirties, the name Davide Gualtieri will mean very little but he holds a special place in the history of the national team.
Now a computer salesman, back in 1993 Gualtieri scored the fastest goal in World Cup qualification history as he took just 8.3 seconds to give San Marino a sensational 1-0 lead against England and although the Three Lions went on to win the match 7-1, the strike just about summed up manager Graham Taylor’s disastrous reign.
The two teams have met several times since but none of the clashes have been as eventful as that one 21 years ago and as the pair prepare to renew hostilities at Wembley in a Euro 2016 qualifier, current England boss Roy Hodgson will be hoping his side avoid their own ‘Gualtieri moment’ and get the job done without incident.
They’ll win of course, of that there is no doubt, hence their odds of just 1/100 with Stan James but conceding a goal to the minnows – ranked 208th in the world and priced at 80/1 by BetVictor to come out on top – would be a huge embarrassment for the hosts.
The Sammarinese are 18/1 via bet365 to stun the Three Lions by opening the scoring again and 6/1 at Ladbrokes to notch at any stage but as Hodgson’s men are just 1/12 (betway) to prevail ‘to nil’, punters looking to profit from the clash should effectively be speculating simply on how many times England will find the net or who will grab those goals.
A 6-0 home victory is the current correct score favourite at 13/2 courtesy of Paddy Power while Stan James mark 7/1 against a 5-0 triumph – arguably the most tempting option as the visitors will try to frustrate the hosts – and William Hill offer 10/1 about the Three Lions netting seven times without reply. Alternatively, sceptics can tackle a repeat of 1993’s 7-1 scoreline at odds of 25/1 (Skybet).
In attack, Wayne Rooney, perhaps rather inevitably, heads bet365’s first scorer market at 5/2, Danny Welbeck is hot on his heels at 3/1 (BetVictor) and Ladbrokes price Raheem Sterling at 5/1. Finally, for those sensing that a set piece could yield the initial England breakthrough, William Hill chalk Gary Cahill up at 20/1 to open the scoring.
England to beat San Marino 5-0 – 7/1 (Stan James)