England’s pleasant stroll only marred by John Terry injury

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Moldova 0 England 5

Zimbru Stadium

At least when Andorra played England, the men from the principality tried their best to kick their opponents. Kazakhstan had the occasional good moment, including a goal at Wembley. But of all the small fry whom the national team have been obliged to step over in qualification for tournaments in recent years, poor old Moldova looked the weakest of the lot.

The long road to Brazil for Roy Hodgson's team started in the most humble of surroundings which could not, even at a stretch, be described as the slightest bit intimidating, especially when the home team conceded a penalty in the first three minutes and spent much of the game stumbling around on their own bumpy pitch.

This was England's biggest victory away from home since they beat San Marino 7-1 in 1993, and if there was a minor inconvenience it was the injury to John Terry, who came off the pitch with two minutes remaining, with all three substitutes already used. Hodgson does at least have no shortage of cover at centre-back for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley.

For all Moldova's inadequacies, England teams of the past have made hard work of these kind of games, not least against the aforementioned Andorra in qualifying campaigns under Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello. They should certainly have scored more goals but they could barely have had more possession had they been assigned their own ball for the evening.

Steven Gerrard was dominant in the first half to the extent that with his team three goals ahead, Hodgson felt sufficiently confident to give his captain a break and replace him at half-time. Frank Lampard scored the 24th and 25th goals of his England career, moving him up to 13th on the all-time goalscorers list above Geoff Hurst. This was a fill-yer-boots night and Hodgson said that 5-0 did not flatter England.

On to Ukraine at Wembley, which will at least ask a few more searching questions of Hodgson and the 4-2-3-1 formation he has adopted. His record so far is six wins and two draws, including that penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy, which is not a bad start and no matter how poor the opposition were last night it was one of those away trips into the relative unknown that can fill a manager with dread.

Hodgson left Michael Carrick on the bench and kept faith with Tom Cleverley in the No 10 role just behind Jermain Defoe and he saddled up Lampard and Gerrard together in midfield for yet another shot at making the partnership work. This was no more a glimpse of the future than the decaying Soviet-era tower blocks that loom over the little Zimbru stadium, but that did not concern Hodgson.

His team were a goal ahead within three minutes and it quickly became apparent that England were dealing with a team of some limitations and a fair degree of nervousness at playing in front of an expectant home crowd. There are only six international teams ranked lower than Moldova in Europe and all that can be deduced about that half a dozen is that they must be truly dreadful.

The pitch was ridged and unpredictable but if anything that worked in favour of the more technically accomplished English players. In midfield, Gerrard and James Milner took the ball from their opponents with embarrassing ease. Nevertheless, the home team were unfortunate to concede a penalty when Simion Bulgaru was judged to have handled Cleverley's shot.

It was a tough decision for Moldova to take, although England should have had two more in the first 11 minutes and missed both chances. The penalty was stroked home with Lampard's customary reliability and the onslaught continued: Defoe failed to get a good connection on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross from the left on nine minutes and then the Spurs striker had his shot saved when Gerrard played him in two minutes later.

Oxlade-Chamberlain looked dangerous every time he was on the ball and Joe Hart kicked towards him at every opportunity. England pushed up hard all over the pitch, a full-court press that asked serious questions of their opponents' willingness to receive the ball under pressure and there were mistakes aplenty by the men in blue. Also, strangely, five handball decisions went against the Moldovans in the first 25 minutes.

Gerrard hit a short free-kick rolled to him by Lampard just over the bar. Glen Johnson struck one with his less-favoured left foot which was saved by Stanislav Namasco. Then, on 29 minutes, the Liverpool right-back picked out Lampard at the back-post for a rare headed goal.

Defoe scored the third three minutes later. Had Namasco watched any videos of the Spurs man he would know that Defoe will shoot if he happens to be in the same post code as a set of goalposts. He hit his shot early and hard and embarrassed the Moldova goalkeeper at his left post.

It was a better performance from the Moldovans in the second half although not one which could be said to offer much in the way of a goal-threat to England, who had Carrick on in place of Gerrard. The kindest thing you could say for Ion Caras and his players was that they did enough to thwart the kind of really heavy defeat that would have caused embarrassment to their country.

That and the fact that Hodgson's team relented somewhat helped the home side. Theo Walcott came on for Oxlade-Chamberlain, but the tricky surface did not suit Walcott's attempts to run with the ball at blistering pace. Danny Welbeck replaced Defoe and played a part in the fourth goal for which he, Cleverley and Walcott opened up a clear sight of goal for Milner to score his first international goal.

On his first competitive start for England, Leighton Baines capped a tidy display with a well-struck free-kick from the left that hit Alexandru Gatcan in the wall and looped over Namasco and into the goal. It was the first goal scored by England from a free-kick since David Beckham did so against Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup finals.

Moldova should really have had a penalty for a clumsy lunge on Eugeniu Sidorenco by Joleon Lescott but that was about all they missed out on. England played the last few minutes with 10 men in Terry's absence, although it really was one of those games when being one man lighter was incidental.

Booked Moldova Bulgaru. England Johnson.

Man of the match Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Match rating 7/10.

Possession: Moldova 42%. England 58%.

Attempts on target Moldova 4. England 11.

Referee P van Boekel (Neth).

Attendance 10,250.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn