ENGLAND 4, MOLDOVA 0.
England’s win against Wembley in their World Cup qualifier was the formality everybody predicted.
Whether England make it to Brazil next summer won’t hinge on such opponents, but how they are against the heavyweights of the group – Ukraine, Montenegro and Poland.
And one of those obstacles will be on Tuesday in Ukraine, who can still qualify, and which will be of far greater significance than this walkover.
It was a win engineered in the North West as Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck scored twice while Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard and Merseyside-born Ricky Lambert also found the net.
But in truth England ought to have triumphed by a far wider margin given how one sided this contest was.
England manager Roy Hodgson was happy to avoid a banana skin saying: “It was a good win in potentially a tricky game.
“The Poland/Montenegro result (1-1) didn’t do us any harm and we always knew we would have to match the 1-1 at home to Ukraine when we played them away.”
Hodgson added that Southampton striker Lambert has put himself in the frame for the Ukraine game in the absence of other front players.
“He has taken his chance and will be expecting to play on Tuesday. I have to make a decision and possibly disappoint his expectancy,” he explained.
Hodgson’s only disappointment was the booking Welbeck picked up and while rules him out of the Ukraine game.
“You would have to work hard to persuade me it was a yellow card, but it happened and we have to deal with it and live with it,” he explained.
Lambert, making his first start for England, must have thought international football was a breeze as he had two goal attempts in the opening four minutes.
After England earlier won 5-0 in Moldova, it was always going to be a case of when, not if, England would take the lead and that moment came in the 12th minute.
Ashley Cole and Danny Welbeck linked on the left and Welbeck’s cross was helped by Frank Lampard into the path of Gerrard whose sweetly-struck 25-yard drive found the bottom corner. It was his 20th goal for England in his 104th international.
Theo Walcott had a goal ruled out for offside, Jack Wilshere forced a great save from Stanislav Namasco while Frank Lampard’s header was beaten out by the keeper before England extended their lead midway through the half.
Walcott’ angled shot was parried by the keeper only as far as Lambert who was free at the far post to head home from two yards, his second goal in only 49 minutes of international football.
England added a third goal in stoppage time as Welbeck, who moments earlier picked up a needless booking which rules him out of the Ukraine game on Tuesday, found the net.
Lambert lofted a pass over the Moldova defence and Welbeck managed to get to the ball before the Moldova keeper and virtually walked the ball into the net.
England made it 4-0 soon after the restart when Lambert released Welbeck on the left of the box and he lifted the ball over the advancing keeper, a class finish.
With the game already won, Hodgson was able to substitute Cole from the restart and Wilshere on the hour as Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley made their entrances, the 19-year-old Barkley making his full international debut.
England ought to have added further goals as Baines had a shot well saved, Welbeck could have completed a hat trick, Barkley raced clear only to drag his shot wide when glory beckoned.
Lampard had a shot saved by the legs of the keeper and Kyle Walker fired inches over and in stoppage time substitute James Milner missed a sitter as England could conceivably have doubled their margin of victory.