England rolls past lowly Moldova
Rickie Lambert was on target again for England as they eased to a 4-0 victory over Moldova in their latest 2014 World Cup qualifier.
The Three Lions took just 12 minutes to break the deadlock at Wembley, with national skipper Steven Gerrard crashing into the bottom corner from 20 yards out after being teed up by Frank Lampard. Southampton striker Lambert made it two in as many international outings when Moldova goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco inexplicably spilled the ball onto his head two yards out.
Danny Welbeck collected a booking late in the first half which means he will sit out a crucial trip to Ukraine on Tuesday, but he added a third moments later as he slipped through the middle, rounded Namasco and tapped into an empty net.
The Manchester United man also grabbed England's fourth five minutes into the second half, with a fine move allowing him to break into the box and delicately dink the ball over the onrushing Moldovan keeper.
As in England's five-goal romp in Chisinau back in September 2012, Moldova were no threat and it was just a question of how long the hosts would have to wait for their opener. The answer was 12 minutes, by which time Lambert had rifled a fierce effort wide and Kyle Walker had fizzed a low cross through the six-yard box without an England player managing to get a touch on it.
It took some hard graft from Welbeck and Ashley Cole to create the opportunity, laying the ball into Lampard's path. So often has it been said Lampard and Gerrard cannot play together. They did OK this time though as the Chelsea man, on his 99th appearance, rolled the ball into Gerrard's path and the skipper drilled a superb shot that nestled in the corner of Namasco's goal.
If Joe Hart has had his critics recently, it would be fair to say Namasco would have a few more if he tried to forge a career in England. The Moldova goalkeeper looked ill at ease virtually every time he was threatened, which was often.
When Theo Walcott lashed a shot goalwards, Namasco could only push it straight onto Lambert's head. For a man brought up on the long-ball tactics of lower leagues, who exactly 10 years ago was an unused substitute for Stockport, it was an opportunity to relish, and he steered the ball in to become the first man in 37 years to score on his first two England appearances.
Welbeck's booking - and Roy Hodgson's fury came shortly afterwards.
The England boss was probably considering how to replace the Manchester United man in Kiev when Welbeck extended his remarkable international scoring record. Showing a neat turn of pace, Welbeck exposed some slack Moldovan defending as he raced onto Lambert's long ball, skipped round Namasco and rolled the ball in.
Lambert was the provider for Welbeck's second too, finding his strike partner with a short pass that allowed him to clip a neat effort into the corner.
James Milner replaced Lambert before the end in what seemed a clear audition for Welbeck's job, although a woeful injury time miss will not have done much to inspire confidence.