The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
England goes top of World Cup qualifying group with 4-0 win over Moldova as Montenegro is held
LONDON - Danny Welbeck filled the void left by Wayne Rooney's injury absence by scoring twice Friday to put England in control of World Cup qualifying with a 4-0 victory over Moldova, toppling Montenegro from top spot in Group H.
Montenegro, which has played a game more than England and has an inferior goal difference, was held to a 1-1 draw against Poland.
At Wembley Stadium it was a bittersweet night for Welbeck.
The Manchester United striker struck either side of halftime after captain Steven Gerrard scored his first England goal in three years and Rickie Lambert marked his second cap with a second goal.
But before scoring, Welbeck was shown a yellow card for shooting in the split-second after the referee blew for offside. He will miss the next qualifier in Kyiv on Tuesday, having been booked for diving earlier in the campaign.
"The booking for Danny Welbeck has overshadowed the night, that's for sure," England coach Roy Hodgson said.
Ukraine, a point behind England and Montenegro in third, warmed up for hosting Hodgson's side by routing San Marino 9-0 with eight different scorers.
Montenegro's 1-1 draw against Poland saw the team fall behind England due to its inferior goal difference.
England hosted a hapless Moldova side, which posed absolutely no danger to the hosts.
The tougher assignment is the trip to Kyiv where England's striking problems might be exposed.
Wayne Rooney has already been ruled out with a head injury, and Daniel Sturridge is a doubt with a thigh injury.
"We're getting used to dealing with misfortune," Hodgson said. "The players dealt with the blows we suffered in terms of injury. I hope they do the same thing in Ukraine."
Such is the shortage of options up front that Lambert was rewarded for his scoring debut last month in a friendly against Scotland with his first start.
Inside four minutes, the 31-year-old Southampton striker was presented with two chances — heading over and then powerfully volleying wide.
Instead, it was a mainstay of the England team who found the net, with Gerrard marking his 104th appearance with his 20th international goal.
England ripped the Moldovans apart down the left flank, with Ashley Cole rolling the ball to Welbeck and then passing to Lampard.
The Chelsea midfielder squared to Gerrard, who curled the ball into the net from 25 yards (meters) in the 12th minute.
Despite the early lead and chances to go further in front, the hosts were far from vibrant despite having a territorial advantage.
There was little doubt about the victory once Lambert scored.
Goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco flapped at Walcott's shot and the attempted save only diverted the ball to Lambert who was on hand at the far back post to head into an open net in the 26th.
"Lambert was a selection that obviously people saw as a selection that came about because two other candidates were missing but he took his chance," Hodgson said. "I'm sure he will be expecting to play on Tuesday.
"I'll have to make a decision whether to go along with his expectancy or surprise him."
Welbeck showed England what they'll miss in Ukraine when he brought down Lambert's deep ball, and took it past Namasco before steering the ball into the net on the stroke of half time.
Five minutes into the second half, Welbeck was on target again.
Lambert surged down the left and picked out the Manchester United striker, who dinked the ball over the advancing Namasco.
It was 'mission accomplished' for England, which maintained its dominance to the end without finding the net again.
The glut of goals came with Ukraine's demolition of San Marino, which is bottom and without a point.
With a ruthless display, the goals came from Marko Devic, Yevhen Seleznyov, Edmar, Yevhen Khacheridi (two), Yevgen Konoplianka, Roman Bezus, Artem Fedetskiy and Yaroslav Rakitskiy.
The tightest game in the group on Friday came at Warsaw's National Stadium.
Montenegro made the perfect start in its bid to hold on to top spot when Dejan Damjanovic drilled the ball into the net from the edge of the area after 12 minutes.
But Robert Lewandowski responded four minutes later, netting the equalizer from inside the area for Poland.
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