Rickie Lambert continued to catch the eye in an England shirt, in an impressive display against Moldova last night.
Lambert, given his first England start at the age of 31 against Moldova in World Cup Qualifying, scored one goal and assisted two others as England ran out comfortable 4-0 winners.
Steven Gerrard fired England ahead with a powerful low shot that went in off the post after just eleven minutes, and Lambert didn't have to wait too much longer to get in on the action.
With 26 minutes on the clock, Lambert had his second goal in an England shirt. Having scored a header with his first touch on his England debut against Scotland, Lambert's second once again came courtesy of a headed finish. After failed attempts by Moldova to clear their lines, Lambert pounced to head in from close range with a good reaction finish.
That goal meant that Lambert has now outscored former Manchester United and England forward Andy Cole for the national side, who played across a seven year period. It appears clear that Lambert's main rival for a place in Roy Hodgson's World Cup thoughts is likely to be Andy Carroll, and the Southampton forward equalled the West Ham forward's goal tally for the Three Lions.
Lambert appeared comfortable and accomplished through, regularly dropping deep to allow Danny Welbeck to make surging runs in behind the Moldova front-line. This was ultimately how England's third came to fruition on the stroke of half-time.
A drifted run to the right-hand side of the pitch from Lambert saw him pick up the ball, before lifting an exquisite pass into the path of Welbeck, who touched the ball past the keeper before rolling the ball into the open net, handing England a three-goal lead heading into the break.
Lambert re-emerged for the second half, as Hodgson gave the 31-year-old the right to continue spearheading the England front line. Lambert played in Welbeck once again with some neat footwork on the edge of the box, but Moldova goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco was equal to it.
Welbeck and Lambert combined to devastating effect again soon after.
Just five minutes after the interval, Lambert threaded a pass through the Moldova defence, allowing Danny Welbeck to chip the onrushing goalkeeper with great poise.
However, a harsh yellow card for playing on beyond the referee's whistle for offside saw Welbeck go into the book, meaning he will now be suspended for the trip to Ukraine.
Lambert was to be withdrawn on seventy minutes, with England manager Roy Hodgson clearly with one eye on next week's crunch tie with Ukraine.
It appears that Rickie Lambert will now lead the line for England in the tie in Kiev.
Roy Hodgson had initially called up the quintet of Wayne Rooney, Danny Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Jermain Defoe and Rickie Lambert for the clashes with Moldova and Ukraine.
Wayne Rooney was forced to withdraw due to a head wound caused in a training ground clash with Manchester United team-mate Phil Jones, whilst fellow Red Devil Welbeck will now miss out through suspension.
Daniel Sturridge faces an assessment of his thigh injury before the England team fly to Ukraine on Monday, whilst Jermain Defoe continues his comeback from injury.
Whilst he revealed that Welbeck's suspension had "taken the gloss off" of a good team performance, Hodgson showed support for Lambert in the wake of the Moldova game, saying: "That's all you can do when you put the national team shirt on. I'm sure he'll be expecting to play on Tuesday. I'll have to make a decision to go along with his expectation or surprise him."
Speaking after the game, Southampton striker Lambert said: "We won, and I managed to get on the scoresheet, so that's a good day. I am hoping I can give them something different in Ukraine. Scoring for England is the best feeling in the world."
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