Rooney heads home England's opener at Wembley on Wednesday
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Wembley
England's relentless march towards the 2010 World Cup in South Africa has gathered almost unstoppable momentum after a stroll to victory against Andorra at Wembley.
Fabio Capello's side have barely broken stride as England have carved their way ruthlessly through Group Six - and there was never any danger of Andorra preventing them recording a seventh successive victory in the qualifying campaign.
England's fans defied the Tube strike with a superb show of support as almost 58,000 made their way to Wembley. And they were rewarded with a triumph that was a formality, especially after Wayne Rooney ended any hopes Andorra had of mounting even token resistance with a fourth-minute header.
Frank Lampard added a second with an emphatic finish and Rooney volleyed a third before the interval as England ensured Andorra were put away with minimum fuss, allowing Capello to ring the changes after the break.
Substitute Jermain Defoe headed in England's fourth with 17 minutes left and was on target again three minutes later after Andorra keeper Koldo Alvarez fumbled David Beckham's free-kick.
Peter Crouch then bundled home a sixth after a fine run by Defoe as Andorra crumbled visibly under the strain of attempting to keep rampant England at bay.
It would take a collapse of unthinkable proportions to deny England a place in South Africa, with even the ultra-cautious Capello now surely convinced that a World Cup place is assured.
And while nothing can be taken as an accurate measure of their hopes in South Africa from what was little more than a Wembley training exercise, England's route to next summer's showpiece has been navigated in hugely impressive fashion.
England's 4-1 win against Croatia in Zagreb in September, four days after victory against these opponents in Barcelona, set the tone for smooth progress towards the World Cup with the efficiency that has become the Capello trademark.
And Rooney was once again the spearhead as he moves towards full maturity on the international stage, scoring twice in the first half to take his tally to 10 in his last seven internationals and level with the hat-trick hero of the 1966 World Cup final win Sir Geoff Hurst, on 24 goals for England.
Capello still focused on qualifying
England's superiority was such that the game took on the appearance of an exhibition for long spells as their attack attempted to manoeuvre its way around a packed, but hopelessly outclassed, Andorran defence.
There was an extra cause for celebration during the interval when the members of the England World Cup squad who did not play against West Germany in the final triumph at Wembley 43 years ago, were paraded on the pitch after finally receiving medals to mark that victory.
Now, with another three points secured, attention will soon turn to whether England, under the shrewd and experienced guidance of Capello, can repeat that feat next summer.
It took England 49 minutes to break Andorra's resistance in Barcelona in September - but they experienced no such problems at Wembley as Rooney headed them in front in the fourth minute.
Rooney had already forced Alvarez into a save and headed against the bar from point-blank range when he arrived unmarked on the end of Glen Johnson's perfect cross to score.
It was the signal for England, predictably, to lay siege to the Andorra goal. Crouch headed over and Steven Gerrard forced a low save from Alvarez before Lampard added the second after 29 minutes.
The lively Theo Walcott was the creator, with a cross from the right that was emphatically driven beyond Alvarez by the incoming Lampard.
Capello the key to success - Beckham
And Rooney took advantage of another inviting delivery from Johnson to volley in the third six minutes before the interval.
It was Rooney's final contribution, as both he and Gerrard were removed at half-time to make way for Defoe and Ashley Young - but there was little interruption to the incessant flow of attacks towards Andorra's goal.
Andorra somehow survived until the 73rd minute before Defoe headed in another pinpoint cross from the impressive Johnson, and the Spurs striker pounced again three minutes later when the unfortunate Alvarez dropped Beckham's routine free-kick.
Crouch had suffered several near misses, but he finally made his mark nine minutes from time as his tame finish rolled apologetically over the line after Defoe's pace had proved too much for Andorra.
England's players rewarded the Wembley gallery for beating the travel problems with a lap of honour at the end - and the crowd responded with a generous ovation as Capello's side continued their flawless assault on South Africa.
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