The Three Lions took another three points in a comfortable 4-0 victory against Moldova at Wembley Stadium to send them to the top of their group. The first of two important World Cup Qualifying games, it was vital England claimed a win in order to prepare themselves for their next away fixture against tougher opponents Ukraine.
Despite a few injuries leading up to the game, England remained confident and this channelled into an early 12th minute goal. Danny Welbeck dragged the ball back to Frank Lampard, who teed up Steven Gerrard’s shot, a low drive into the bottom right corner from just outside the area.
With key strikers Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge out due to injuries, Rickie Lambert was called upon by Roy Hodgson to lead the attack, for only the second time in his career, after making his England debut in August. And for the second time in his career, the 31-year-old found the back of the net in the 27th minute. Relentless England pressure resulted in a Theo Walcott shot being poorly parried away by the goalkeeper, allowing the striker to nod home.
With victory comes sacrifice. An unnecessary sacrifice at that, as Welbeck was shown a yellow card for shooting after the whistle had gone. A blow for England as this now rules him out of England’s game against Ukraine on Tuesday.
The striker responded by scoring at the end of the first half, after a terrific floated ball forward from Lambert, leaving Welbeck to take it round the keeper and put away.
The final goal came five minutes into the second half. It was Lambert again who created the chance, poking the ball through, and Welbeck again who finished it, carefully lifting the ball over the keeper.
With no real attacking threats from the opposition, the home side were able to see the game out. Gerrard received Man of the Match and rightly so. The captain was able to control the midfield, directing passes left, right and centre. Kyle Walker also put in a decent performance, providing crosses from the right side. 60th minute substitute Ross Barkley made his England debut. The 18-year-old brought some energy to the field and only just failed to score, after his low shot squeezed past the post. I would like to see him start against the Ukraine as I feel he could provide creativity and energy to the squad.
With Welbeck unavailable and Sturridge doubtful, it could fall to Lambert to start the game again. After another good performance, England can look to him with high hopes to net more goals. A bigger game to attend to Tuesday, one that England can win, but they should not take their opponents lightly.