England 4 Moldova 0: Three talking points as Rickie Lambert stars
England 4 Moldova 0: Here are three talking points from the Three Lions' emphatic win at Wembley on Friday night
Lambert impresses – again
Two goals, two assists, and two caps. Not a bad return for Southampton striker Rickie Lambert. The scorer of the winning goal against Scotland was handed a starting place in the team for the visit of Moldova – and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. After missing the chance to get on the end of a wonderful Kyle Walker cross early on, Lambert saw little of the ball in the opening exchanges, with the wing-play bypassing him. However, when goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco, who had a thoroughly miserable night, parried a Theo Walcott strike right into the path of the 31 year-old, the big man made no mistake in planting his second England header into the empty net. He followed up on his goal with two assists for Danny Welbeck – the first a beautifully weighted cross-field ball, and the second splitting the Moldovan defence like a hot knife through butter. Manchester United forward Welbeck had an excellent game, buzzing around the box, but Lambert provided the little touches of magic on the night, even if it was against a side ranked 123rd in the world. England boss Roy Hodgson will be glad to see Lambert put in a key performance as his side’s lack of available forwards took another knock – Welbeck having to miss the game against Ukraine on Tuesday to serve a suspension for an innocuous yellow card shown for playing on after the whistle had been blown. With Jermain Defoe the only other remaining fit and available forward, Lambert looks set to keep his spot as the attacking spearhead in Kiev.
Lampard and Gerrard wind back the years
In what must be one of the most ridiculous statements of the last decade in English football, apparently Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are incapable of playing together. That was rightly put to bed against Moldova, as the duo wound back the years to play some of the best midfield football for England in their respective careers. In a fluid three-man midfield with Jack Wilshere, Lampard and Gerrard provided the accurate long balls, letting the younger Wilshere clean up everything else and provide the quick passes to support to the forward line. Lampard was deployed in the anchoring role, much as he is with Chelsea these days, while Gerrard joined in the attack, normally from the wings, and delivered some delicious balls. The two linked up for England’s first goal – Lampard, prowling along the box, teed up Gerrard to hit a low, inswinging strike into the corner, via the post. Their mature, calm presence in the middle of the pitch gave Wilshere licence to romp forward with his darting runs, safe in the knowledge that one of Lampard or Gerrard would sit in front of the back four while the other was more advanced. It was a professional performance from two consummate professionals, and with Tom Cleverley and Ross Barkley watching from the bench, England might not have to wait too long for a similar pairing.
All eyes on Kiev
With the formalities of Moldova done and a further four goals added to the goal difference, all English eyes now turn to Kiev on Tuesday evening. England will remain top of Group H with anything but a loss to Ukraine, who themselves boosted their goal difference with a 9-0 drubbing of San Marino. It will be just under a year since Lampard’s late penalty salvaged a point for the Three Lions in the reverse fixture at Wembley, and Roy Hodgson will know that it could make or break England’s chances of qualification for the World Cup. With home games against second and fourth placed Poland and Montenegro still to come, playing third placed Ukraine will give the chance for the current England squad to send out a strong message to their group rivals.