Three Lions thrash Moldova
Early goals from Lampard enough to help England ease to win
Last Updated: 08/09/12 9:53pm
Frank Lampard: Heads home his and England's second goal to make it an easy night in Moldova
England produced a dominant display in Moldova to begin their World Cup qualifying campaign in style with a 5-0 win.
Any thoughts this could be a difficult night for Roy Hodgson's side evaporated when England were awarded a penalty inside three minutes that Frank Lampard converted with aplomb.
The visitors could sense a rout and when Glen Johnson crossed for Lampard to head in a second before the 20-minute mark the game was over as a contest against a side with so little firepower.
Jermain Defoe then got on the scoresheet in his 50th international appearance, beating Stanislav Namasco at the near post just after the half-hour mark.
Hodgson pleased with performance
At the other end the biggest challenge was maintaining concentration and while the occasional cross caused difficulty it was largely a comfortable evening for England defenders.
After the interval the tempo slowed as Hodgson's men appeared to have one eye on Ukraine at Wembley on Tuesday with the manager replacing skipper Steven Gerrard with Michael Carrick.
But Theo Walcott did inject some urgency and combined well with fellow substitute Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley to set up James Milner for a deserved first international goal.
And then Leighton Baines, deputising for the injured Ashley Cole, also helped himself to a first England goal as his free-kick took a huge deflection off the wall to leave Namasco stranded late on.
The only disappointment for Hodgson was the sight of an injured John Terry trudging down the tunnel with a few minutes remaining after picking up a knock.
But it was not enough to take away from the feeling of satisfaction that this was a job well done from a confident and united England team.
Hodgson could take some satisfaction from the knowledge one of his surprise selections created the opener.
Preferred to Manchester United team-mate Carrick, Cleverley was eager to make a positive impression on his first competitive start.
He did exactly that by meeting Milner's far post cross perfectly, only for Semion Bulgaru to block it with his hand.
Referee Paul van Boekel gave England the benefit of the doubt and Lampard gave them the early advantage they craved.
In truth, though Moldova tried hard, they lacked the finesse to do any damage at this level, or the defensive solidity to keep England out.
Keeper Namasco was unconvincing as he dealt with efforts from Defoe, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Glen Johnson before he was beaten once more by Lampard midway through the half.
Lampard brace helps England to victory
Again the delivery came from the right - this time from Johnson - and Lampard was perfectly placed to convert.
Within three minutes, England had another. Earlier this week, Defoe spoke about how being on the pitch is an escape from the tragedies he has experienced recently.
Selected ahead of Danny Welbeck for his first competitive start in two years, Defoe's lively display was too much for Moldova to cope with.
Sting in the tail
And when Oxlade-Chamberlain rolled a pass through a static defence, Defoe found the net with a first-time shot.
The sting in the tail from that impressive opening period came when skipper Gerrard did not reappear for the start of the second period. Football Association staff played down injury concerns.
However, with an encounter against Ukraine to follow at Wembley on Tuesday, Hodgson will hope Gerrard has not suffered one of his periodic muscular problems.
If there is a consolation, it would be that Carrick has now made himself available.
On as Gerrard's replacement, Carrick kept the ball ticking over as Hodgson would have wanted, even if some of the intensity had disappeared from England's overall performance.
A fourth goal eventually arrived courtesy of Milner after both Cleverley and substitute Welbeck had declined opportunities to shoot themselves.
And 10 minutes from time, Baines completed the victory, with a free-kick.
However, the late departure of the injured Terry, leaving England to play the remainder of injury-time with 10 men and Carrick alongside Joleon Lescott in central defence, confirmed Hodgson's men did not have things all their own way.
|0||1st Half Goals||3|
|2||Shots on Target||9|
|4||Shots off Target||6|
|40.3||1st Half Poss.||59.7|
|43.7||2nd Half Poss.||56.3|