Sunday, 8 September 2013

England 4 v 0 Moldova

Friday 6th September 2013
Wembley Stadium, London
Admission: Complimentary ticket
Programme: £6.00
Attendance: 61,607
Match Rating: 4

This was very much a bonus match for me, one that I would not have attended had I had to buy a ticket. However, after attending the England v Scotland match last month, I tagged myself on 360 degree panoramic photo that the FA posted, and I was notified that I was one of ten persons drawn at random to win a pair of tickets for this evening’s game.

The qualifying campaign for next year’s World Cup in Brazil has now really reached the business end, with England having four games left to play, three at home, to ensure qualification by winning the group.  That is still very much in England’s hands, second in the group, two points behind leaders Montenegro having played a game less, and with Montenegro traveling to Wembley next month in England’s penultimate game. Having played the same amount of games, England are on point ahead of Ukraine – with Tuesday’s away game in Ukraine potentially being as pivotal as the home match against Montenegro – and three points ahead of Poland. Moldova are a distant fifth out of the six teams in the group, having won one of their seven games so far, which came against San Marino, and their two draws came at home to Poland and Ukraine. Right at the start of the campaign, almost exactly a year ago, England won convincingly 0-5 in Chisinau. Apart from that, England’s game has been unspectacular – their two other wins coming against San Marino, away draws against Poland and Montenegro and a home draw against Ukraine.

On a dry but rather chilly September evening, this match went pretty much as one would expect, with England dominant and although Moldova battled gamely, and were surprisingly adventurous occasionally and certainly didn’t “park the bus”, were completely outclassed. After a fairly slow start with a couple of sloppy touches giving the Moldovans heart, England took the lead on 12 minutes. Frank Lampard played a low pass across to Steven Gerrard just outside the box, who drove in a perfectly judged low shot just inside the post. England doubled their lead on 36 minutes. Theo Walcott’s powerful shot was parried gently across goal by the keeper, allowing Rickie Lambert to head home for a couple of yards for his second goal in his two England appearances – not a bad ratio for the Southampton striker.  Deep into the one minute of injury time at the end of the first half, England killed the game off with a third goal, when Danny Welbeck just managed to get a touch on Lambert’s ball forward before the keeper who could only faintly parry the ball and Welbeck walked the ball in.

Five minutes into the second half, and England made it four thanks to the same combination, Lambert rolling the ball into Welbeck’s path deep inside the penalty area, and Welbeck cutely dinked the ball over the keeper and into the net. That turned out to be the end of the scoring, and although England had some very good chances to extend their lead further, their play became much more pedestrian, perhaps conserving their energies for the much tougher assignment in Ukraine on Tuesday. Moldova had the odd venture forward, but England’s clean sheet never looked in serious danger. With news coming in that Montenegro had only drawn this evening in Poland, it now looks like Ukraine will be the main threat to England securing automatic qualification, making Tuesday’s gave even more crucial.

Video highlights at

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