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England thrash Moldova in World Cup qualifiers

England thrash Moldova in World Cup qualifiers

Lampard (twice), Defoe, Milner and Baines scored in the Three Lions' 5-0 win, their biggest away win in 19 years.

Chisinau: Frank Lampard scored twice as England relied on a dominant first-half showing against Moldova to open their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 5-0 win on Friday, their biggest away victory in 19 years.

Jermain Defoe — making his 50th international appearance — grabbed England's other goal before the break in Chisinau, with James Milner and Leighton Baines netting in the last 16 minutes in a comprehensive Group H victory over their 141st-ranked opponents.

Playing on an uneven surface, Lampard settled any early nerves by burying a third-minute penalty low into the corner after Tom Cleverley's shot struck the arm of Simion Bulgaru in the area.

The Chelsea midfielder doubled the lead with a close-range header in the 29th and from then it was plain sailing for the visitors.

"I was pleased with the way we played, especially in the first half," England manager Roy Hodgson said.

"We attacked and defended well, we were quick to get the ball back and smother any opportunities they may have had on the counter attack."

England should have it much tougher against Ukraine on Tuesday, where being deprived of star striker Wayne Rooney as well as Ashley Cole and Andy Carroll may be more keenly felt.

Returning center back John Terry also limped off with two minutes remaining here, leaving England to finish the match with 10 men, and he is a doubt for the Ukraine game.

"I will have to see what the doctors tell me," Hodgson said.

It was the first time England have scored five times in a match in three years and continued England's decent record under Hodgson, whose only loss since taking over in April was the penalty-shootout to Italy at the European Championship.

Lampard's unforgiving penalty means he has scored more spot kicks — eighth — for his country than anyone else, and his confident display in central midfield alongside captain Steven Gerrard shows the 34-year-old's international career may still have plenty of time to run.

Hodgson urged his players to pretend they were playing against Brazil — the hosts of the 2014 tournament — but Moldova offered little going forward and plenty of chances to England at the other end.

Lampard took advantage, heading home a clipped cross from Glen Johnson and it was the marauding right back who also set up Defoe — playing as the lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation — for the third three minutes later.

Moldova came close when Igor Armas headed wide from a corner when free in the area, but it was a matter of how many goals England could score in the final quarter.

In the end, they could only manage two more, with Milner shooting low into the corner after a counterattack and Baines, playing at left back in place of the injured Cole, seeing his deflected free kick loop into the corner off the defensive wall in the 83rd.

"We can improve," Lampard said. "We will look for areas to improve and we need to keep it tight for 90 minutes against a team who are probably better."