After the comments made by new FA chairman Greg Dyke this week that England are unlikely to win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Roy Hodgson was the man left to pick up the pieces refilling the nation with some slender hope, for the meantime at least.
However in what are a vital couple of months for the England manager, Hodgson stressed the point that England must first get to the World Cup next year before they set about trying to win it.
Last night’s 4-0 victory over Moldova at Wembley may not have persuaded the country that England can triumph in Brazil; instead the game allowed Hodgson the chance to introduce some new faces to the England scene and as the saying goes you can only beat what’s in front of you.
It was no surprise that England ran out worthy winners against a side ranked 123rd in FIFA's world ranking, as goals from captain Steven Gerrard, Rickie Lambert and a double from Danny Welbeck prevented any embarrassing blushes at full time.
The result set the stage for Tuesday’s crucial qualifier with Ukraine in Kiev while it also moves England top of group H following Montenegro’s 1-1 draw with Poland.
The only negative from a good night’s work was the controversial yellow card brandished to Welbeck meaning the striker is now suspended for the trip to Ukraine, who lie a point behind England in the group with three matches still to play.
England went into the match, which on paper was the easiest of their four remaining qualifiers, without the injured strikers Wayne Rooney or Daniel Sturridge.
Nevertheless it didn’t take long for England to take command, only twelve minutes had gone when a move down the left found Frank Lampard on the edge of the Moldova penalty area, unselfishly the Chelsea man laid the ball off to his midfield partner Gerrard who fired England ahead, striking a low shot beyond the reach of Moldovan keeper Stanislav Namisco.
The hosts bided their time and it wasn’t long before they doubled their advantage. Namisco was one of the main culprits as the visitors failed to clear the danger on numerous occasions and the Moldovan keeper’s unconvincing start was finally punished when he turned Theo Walcott’s shot into the path of Lambert, whose header marked his second international goal in as many games.
An upbeat mood was somewhat dampened by the booking for Welbeck, as the striker paid the price for taking a shot after the whistle had gone. On reflection the decision looked very harsh but won’t stop him missing Tuesday’s important match.
Welbeck then showed why he will be such a big loss when he latched on to Lambert’s pass before advancing beyond the keeper, adding England’s third on the stroke of half time.
After the break it was the Manchester United forward who again got the ball rolling. Lambert was again the provider as he continued a fine performance when he slipped the ball through to Welbeck who this time finished the move with a delicate chip over Namisco for England’s fourth.
Jack Wilshere was withdrawn and replaced by 19-year-old Ross Barkley, who looked lively after coming on. With fifteen minutes to go he came close after receiving a pass from Gerrard but dragged his effort past the far post.
James Milner was also introduced and was handed a golden chance to extend the lead, but failed to make sufficient contact with the ball sending his shot over the bar.
4-0 it stayed as Hodgson and England now turn their attention to what could be a make or break game as far as qualification is concerned. A win in Kiev and Brazil would begin to appear on England’s radar.
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