England kicked-off the 2015 Cerebral Palsy World Championships with a resounding 14-0 victory against Japan.
Following Iran’s late withdrawal – and the fact that a spot at the Paralympics is up for grabs for all teams that reach the knockout phase – the result also all but guarantees Keith Webb’s side a place in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
But that thought was secondary to matters on the pitch and under the bright mid-summer sunshine of St. George’s Park – where eighth edition of the tournament is being hosted – the Three Lions set about their business from the off.
England 14-0 Japan
Cerebral Palsy World Championships
Tuesday 16 June
St. George's Park
Their captain and talisman Jack Rutter – a former Birmingham City academy player – led by example.
With 22 minutes gone he already notched his hat-trick. By the interval – 30 minutes in Cerebral Palsy football – he had four.
And by the time he was substituted in the second half he had put six past a bewildered Naoyoshi Kagayama in the Japan goal.
Rutter will get the headlines but in truth England’s dominance – as the scoreline suggests – was evident in every area of the pitch.
The attacking trio of Michael Barker, Jake Brown and James Blackwell – who contributed five between them – dominated the final third and looked as though they would score with every attack.
And they nearly did as a shell-shocked Japan struggled to cope with their superiority.
As the temperature rose, England were relaxed in their dominance.
There was also a goal for Emyle Rudder – England’s ninth – which was met with an elaborate celebration as he ran over to the family section of the 500-strong crowd beaming with delight.
After the game he revealed he dedicated his celebration to Ibs Diallo, who was forced to pull out of the tournament two days before it began.
Rutter’s replacement, 17-year-old Ollie Nugent made his contribution count with two goals – the second of which a sublime finish from inside the box moments from time.
It was very much a case of job done for England.
But in reality there will be much tougher tests to come for England as the 12-day tournament ramps up.
After Japan – the lowest ranked team in the competition - Ukraine await Keith Webb’s side in the next fixture.
And England know that when they take to the field on Saturday afternoon, they will be facing one of the world’s best.
But on Tuesday’s showing, they will be going into that encounter brimming with confidence.
England: 1 Giles Moore; 4 Matthew Crossen, 5 Jack Rutter (C), 7 Michael Barker, 8 James Blackwell, 12 Jake Brown, 14 Emyle Rudder.
Substitutes: 13 Ryan Kay for Moore HT. 11 Oliver Nugent for Rutter 39. 9 George Fletcher for Rudder 43.
Substitutes not used: 2 Harry Baker, 3 Karl Townshend, 6 Martin Sinclair.
Goals: Rutter 3, 10, 22, 23, 38, 39. Barker 8. Blackwell 13, 24. Brown 17, 52. Nugent 40, 60. Rudder 28.
Coach: Keith Webb
Japan: 1 Naoyoshi Kagayama; 5 Taisei Taniguchi, 7 Yuki Soma, 9 Tetsuya Toda, 10 Ryuta Yoshino, 11 Tatsuhiro Ura, 16 Inoue Tenma.
Substitutes: 6 Yuji Yamada for Taniguchi HT. 14 Shotaro Osawa for Toda 59.
Substitutes not used: 2 Keisuke Kawabe, 4 Hiroto Takahashi, , 8 Kazuhiro Kubo, 12 Shou Kuroda, , 18 Hideyuki Yanagi.
Coach: Junichi Sano
Referee: Hector Bondia