Roy Hodgson’s England side took one step closer to World Cup qualification with a 4-0 win over Moldova last night at Wembley Stadium to reclaim top of the group from Montenegro – who could only draw in Poland. This fixture ignites further interest in Tuesday’s encounter with Ukraine who find themselves just a point away from the English leaders.
The game began strongly for an England clearly too powerful for their Moldovan counterparts from the outset. Despite swift movements on both flanks and a rather potent ball from Tottenham’s Kyle Walker, nothing seemed to materialise for the Three Lions. However, 12 minutes in and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard stepped up to rifle home a long range effort and give Hodgson’s England a 1-0 lead from a Frank Lampard pass – their long-term England partnership still as strong as before.
The English lead extended just 14 minutes later. Southampton forward Rickie Lambert (on just his second England appearance) headed home from the saved Theo Walcott shot to make it his second goal in two games under Hodgson. Before the stroke of half-time, the manager received his first negative of the night as Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck was booked. He is now suspended for England’s crucial fixture in Kiev on Tuesday night, but this set-back did not prevent him scoring the third of the evening just moments later from a well-placed Rickie Lambert pass.
Joe Hart, the Manchester City and long-term England ‘Number One’ was rarely troubled on the night, even earning supporters’ cheers whenever he needed to make any sort of contribution.
Welbeck rounded off the night just 5 minutes after Half Time. On the fiftieth minute, he calmly scooped the ball over Moldovan keeper Namasco to finish off the the visitors at 4-0. This proved to be yet another Rickie Lambert assist, thus making the night memorable for both players.
Anything extra for England was to be merely a training exercise as the introduction of substitutes signified the manager’s satisfaction with the performance. James Milner and first-timer Ross Barkley made late cameo appearances, but only Barkley influenced the game as his keen and energetic stance impressed spectators.
However, the crowd remained baffled that Tottenham youngster Andros Townsend (who started 4 out of the last 4 for the Londoners) did not make an appearance on the night after tremendous displays in the Barclays Premier League.
The night ended with several additional efforts including a volleyed Kyle Walker effort blazing over the bar and Baines trying to get in on the act before the night was out with his curling effort at the keeper.
The game pushes the Wembley hosts back up to top of the Fifa 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group H after former leaders Montenegro drew 1-1 with the Polish. England’s next test is Ukraine in Tuesday night for another vital World Cup qualifier.