7 Sep 2012

England thrash Moldova in World Cup qualifying opener

England won in emphatic style against footballing minnows Moldova in the first game of their World Cup qualifying campaign – winning 5-0.

Frank Lampard penalty (Reuters)

Roy Hodgson’s team, 137-places higher than Moldova in the FIFA rankings, got off to the best start with goals from Frank Lampard, Jermain Defoe, James Milner and Leighton Baines.

The first goal came three minutes into the game, when Moldova’s Simion Bulgaru accidentally blocked Tom Cleverley’s shot with his flailing arm. Lampard scored the following penalty (pictured, left).

Lampard was on target again 26 minutes later when he headed Glen Johnson’s cross past Moldovan keeper Stanislav Namasco.

The midfielder showed his scoring instincts again after 29 minutes, collecting his 25th England goal when he guided a firm header across and beyond Moldova keeper Stanislav Namasco from Glen Johnson’s inviting cross.

Three minutes later Defoe, earning his 50th cap, shot past Namasco for England’s third.

Moldova enjoyed more of the ball in the second half, but as the game came to a close midfielder James Milner scored England’s fourth and Leighton Baines, in for the injured Ashley Cole at left-back, scored from a free kick.

Best possible start

England manager Roy Hodgson said: “It’s the first match in a qualifying group for a World Cup, which is always a nervous occasion.

“You’re always concerned you’ll not produce the performance you want, or the result, but we got off to the best possible start and controlled the game throughout.

“I don’t think the scoreline flattered us. Sometimes 5-0 victories do, but not today. Now we have a couple of days to prepare for the next one.

“Tuesday is against one of the teams who could be one of the favourites to win the group. I hope the recovery time is sufficient and the players can muster their strength again to give another good performance.”

England’s next game is against Ukraine, recent co-hosts of the Euro 2012 competition. Other teams England will face in Group H of the World Cup qualifying are Poland, Montenegro and San Marino.