England Under-21 2 Moldova Under-21 2: Taylor praises 'tremendous' Walcott

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The Independent Football

Theo Walcott made an instant impact on his England Under-21 debut, heading in the opener after three minutes against Moldova in a European Championship qualifier here last night.

His manager, Peter Taylor, said that the 17-year-old should improve further when he gets more matches under his belt.

Despite England's qualification for next year's finals now being in the balance, Walcott's debut gave Taylor cause for optimism.

"I'm sure he enjoyed himself, to score very early is a bonus," Taylor said. "He's played no matches, so the way he played for an hour is tremendous.

"I thought if we played better as a team he would have looked better. Unfortunately we kept giving the ball away and didn't set up enough attacks."

Walcott headed England ahead after just three minutes. Tom Huddlestone floated the ball out wide and it was eventually worked to Leighton Baines, whose cross from the left was finished by Walcott.

Moldova almost replied with their first attack via Alexandru Gatcan who headed in off the post, only to have the effort ruled out for a push.

But the equaliser Moldova had threatened came in the 75th minute, with Steven Taylor losing possession before the ball was fed to Serghei Alexeev, who chipped in.

David Nugent restored the lead within a minute with a far post header from a Cameron Jerome cross from the right.

But the Moldovan substitute Alexander Zislis nipped in at the near post with five minutes left to ensure the points were shared.

England U21: Carson (Charlton); Richards (Manchester City), Baines (Wigan), Taylor (Newcastle), Ferdinand (West Ham), Huddlestone (Tottenham), Reo-Coker (West Ham), Routledge (Tottenham), Walcott (Arsenal), Nugent (Preston), Bentley (Blackburn). Substitutes: Camp (Derby, gk), Hoyte (Arsenal), Davies (West Bromwich), Watson (Crystal Palace), Milner (Newcastle), Ambrose (Charlton), Jerome (Birmingham).

Moldova U21: Cebanu; Bordian, Golovatenco, Bulgaru, Epureanu, Se Namasco, Tigirlas, Gatcan, Bugaev, Alexeev, Suvorov. Substitutes: St Namasco, Soltanici, Vadim Bolohan, Zislis,Onica, Rudac, Secrieru.

Referee: V Aliyev (Azerbaijan)

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