The next month in the future of the
football team will decide if they can qualify for the forthcoming
World Cup in Brazil
in 2014, and they started with the easiest of four ties by
were on a hiding to nothing in this game but in the end they did the
job expected of them effectively and efficiently.
A difficult week for manager Roy Hodgson had seen
a number of injuries rob him of Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and
Glen Johnson, but the side he selected was far too strong for the
side. Right from the start
there was a purpose about England.
Steven Gerrard was back to his forceful best and he was making
some typical surging runs from the midfield and eager for possession.
The whole team knew their jobs and gradually settled into
dismantling the opposition's defences.
Rickie Lambert shot over from a good position after Ashley
Cole's good work down the left. And then Theo Walcott fed the
overlapping Kyle Walker, and his cross flew across goal with no-one
able to make the vital touch.
There was a good deal of possession for England
in the first ten minutes without too much end product, but that all
changed after 12 minutes play.
Cole again worked the ball down the left, combining with Danny
Welbeck to touch a pass inside to Frank Lampard.
man looked up and laid the perfect pass inside to the onrushing
skipper Gerrard, who rifled a superb low, swerving shot into the
bottom corner for a fine goal, his 20th in
colours. A minute later
and only a last-ditch tackle prevented Lampard from converting
It was all England
now and Walcott had a goal disallowed after just straying offside, and
then Lampard went close with another effort.
Jack Wilshere, showing some neat touches, had a surging run
that ended with a good shot that goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco just
managed to parry the ball away to safety.
The goalkeeper's penchant for punching the ball was to prove
his undoing in England's
next attack. Several times
the ball came into the Moldova
penalty area, and desperate defending kept the ball away from goal.
But the ball was never cleared properly and suddenly Walcott
burst through to fire in a fierce shot which Namasco again tried to
punch away. This time
though the ball spun across goal and there was a jubilant Lambert to
stoop and nod the loose ball over the line from close range.
Two in two for the Southampton man!
Actually Lambert can be very pleased with his first full
international because he was always involved, brought other players in
to play and was always in the danger area when it mattered.
On 28 minutes more good approach play ended with
Walcott volleying over the bar, and then good play by Cole and Welbeck
ended with the latter also firing over.
were totally in control by now and the visitors had little to offer
apart from effort and determination.
Gerrard was looking very sharp and he was covering so much
ground, urging his players on and tirelessly taking possession.
The only criticism of the team at this stage was a few careless
passes when in good positions, which irritated a little.
After 42 minutes Gerrard saw a free-kick punched
away and then a minute later Welbeck was flagged offside as he shot
over the bar again. The
referee, incredibly, booked Welbeck, accusing him of wasting time
after his whistle blew, but Welbeck can consider himself very unlucky,
as he clearly hadn't heard the whistle.
The costly booking will keep Welbeck out of the next game, and
Hodgson was rightly furious with the referee's decision!
To Welbeck's credit, his obvious disappointment
did not affect his game and right on the half-time whistle he made it
3-0 to England.
Lambert picked the ball up on the right and sent in an inch
perfect pass for Welbeck to run onto, beat the keeper and a defender,
and guide the ball into the empty net.
It was a well-made, well-finished goal and that made the
half-time score look a little more realistic, reflecting
The second half continued in the same vein and
early attacks again stretched the
defence. It took
just five minutes of the half to increase their lead.
It was a good move too, as Gerrard fed the ball through to
Lambert and the new man again found Welbeck with a great pass.
As the goalkeeper came out to narrow the angle, Welbeck
cleverly clipped the ball over him and into the net.
More good play then set up Leighton Baines, a
half-time substitute for Cole, and his shot was somehow kept out by
Namasco, although the goalkeeper knew little of how he saved it.
The game settled down again and England were now starting to
ease back a little, knowing that there was a very difficult game still
to come in four days time, but the chances kept coming, as did the
Barkley came on for Wilshere and James Milner replaced Lambert,
Barkley was making a debut, a reward for his early season form for
The final pass
was missing from the next passage of play although half chances were
created. A brilliant pass
from Gerrard found Barkley and the youngster took a good touch before
driving his shot just wide of the far post with the keeper beaten.
After 77 minutes Welbeck forced another save from
the overworked Namasco and then two minutes later Lampard's fierce
shot bounced to safety off the goalkeeper's foot as he dived.
Another lovely move featuring Walker,
Walcott and Gerrard ended with Welbeck glancing a header just wide.
Four minutes from the end it was Walker who hit a screamer just
then had their one and only chance to score a consolation goal, but
Igor Armas shot over from close range when he really should have done
better. If that 89th
minute effort was a bad miss then Milner's last minute attempt was
even worse as he somehow contrived to hit a volley into the ground and
over the bar when presented with an open goal from Gerrard's cross.
Milner will never have a better chance to add to his solitary
goal for England
All in all though it was job done and
can move on to the tougher games ahead.
The loss of Welbeck will be a big blow in relation to the way
he was playing and the current crop of injuries, but the
team can travel to the Ukraine
with confidence high after another good performance.