On this day: England see off Belarus in final World Cup qualifier

Four years ago today, England scored three unanswered goals during their final World Cup qualifier against Belarus.

England rarely make life easy for themselves when it comes to qualifying for a major tournament.

In recent memory alone, they required a knockout clash with rivals Scotland to reach the European Championships in 2000, while 12 months later only David Beckham's stoppage-time heroics saw the Three Lions advance through to the 2002 World Cup.

Then there was the failure to amass enough points to participate at Euro 2008, and even the ongoing qualifying campaign for next year's World Cup has gone down to the wire.

However, under Fabio Capello, the Three Lions uncharacteristically booked their place at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with relative ease.

Peter Crouch scores for England against Belarus in October 2009.© Getty Images

It meant that when they took on Belarus at Wembley four years ago today, the home side had already sealed their status as group winners. Even so, for the players on show, there was still plenty to play for.

With the likes of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole not included in the starting lineup, there was a chance for some of the fringe members of the squad to make an impression on Capello ahead of the tournament.

One of those who did grab the opportunity was Peter Crouch. The then Tottenham Hotspur forward took just four minutes to break the deadlock when he turned in a cross from Gabriel Agbonlahor.

The hosts continued to dominate proceedings, but they failed to add a second before the break. The introduction of Beckham in the 57th minute appeared to inspire both the team and the supporters, though, and within three minutes, he had played a key role in England extending their lead.

Shaun Wright-Phillips is fouled during England's World Cup qualifier against Belarus in October 2009.© Getty Images

The former Manchester United winger played a short corner to Shaun Wright-Phillips, who in turn fashioned a shooting chance for himself. While his effort was by no means cleanly struck, there was enough power on the ball for it to squirm beyond the reach of Belarus goalkeeper Yury Zhevnov.

It was left to Crouch to complete the scoring 16 minutes from time when he capitalised on another error from Zhevnov. This time the keeper failed to hold a strike from substitute Carlton Cole and Crouch was on hand to turn in the rebound.

Despite the resounding victory, Capello was not overly satisfied with what his team had produced and told reporters: "Some things were good some things were not so good. The players know what I mean and I was not happy at half-time as we had to wait too many times to win back the ball."

It would be a disappointing campaign in South Africa for England, though, as they finished second in a group that contained the United States, Slovenia and Algeria. Then in the second round, they crashed to a 4-1 defeat to Germany.

Robert Green of England walks off the pitch after being sent off during the FIFA 2010 World Cup Group 6 Qualifying match between Ukraine and England at the Dnipro Arena on October 10, 2009
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