Roy Hodgson was left raging despite England going to of Group H as a yellow card for two-goal hero Danny Welbeck ruled him out of Tuesday's crucial qualifier with Ukraine in Kiev.
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Steven Gerrard's first goal in more than three years set England on their way to an anticipated triumph against Moldova at Wembley as Rickie Lambert became the first player to score in his first two internationals in 37 years.
Welbeck also grabbed a couple either side of half-time to extend a remarkable scoring record for his country. But it was the yellow card shown to the Manchester United man by Slovakian referee Ivan Kruzliak that had the England boss Hodgson waving his arms on the touchline in fury.
Cautioned for kicking the ball after the whistle had gone for offside, Welbeck is now suspended for Tuesday's assignment, which will go a long way to
determining whether England qualify directly for next year's World Cup. With Wayne Rooney injured and Daniel Sturridge almost certain to miss out too, it was a cruel blow.
And it was made all the worse because Kruzliak had let Victor Golovatenco get away with two crunching tackles from behind on Theo Walcott earlier in the contest. Hodgson made his feelings known in no uncertain manner, expressing his anger to the fourth official.
Comfort came in the result, with Montenegro's draw in Poland meaning England now top their group with three games left - although Ukraine are just a point behind and have a substantially improved goal difference after hammering nine past San Marino.
On the evidence of their meetings with Hodgson's men, it is beyond comprehension how Moldova have managed secure draws with group heavyweights Poland and Ukraine, which could in the end turn out to be very handy.
As in England's five-goal romp in Chisinau, Moldova were no threat and it was just a question of how long the hosts would have to wait for their opener. The answer was 11 minutes, by which time Lambert had rifled a fierce effort wide and Kyle Walker had fizzed a low cross through the six-yard box without an England player managing to get a touch on it.
It took some hard graft from Welbeck and Ashley Cole to create the opportunity, laying the ball into Frank Lampard's path.
So often has it been said Lampard and Gerrard cannot play together.
They did okay this time though as the Chelsea man, on his 99th appearance, rolled the ball into Gerrard's path and the skipper drilled a superb shot that nestled in the corner of Stanislav Namasco's goal.
If Joe Hart has had his critics recently, it would be fair to say Namasco would have a few more if he tried to forge a career in England. The Moldova goalkeeper looked ill at ease virtually every time he was threatened, which was often.
When Theo Walcott lashed a shot goalwards, Namasco could only push it straight onto Lambert's head. For a man brought up on the long-ball tactics of lower leagues, who exactly 10 years ago was an unused substitute for Stockport, it was an opportunity to relish, and he steered the ball in to become the first man in 37 years to score on his first two England appearances.
Welbeck's booking - and Hodgson's fury came shortly afterwards.T he England boss was probably considering how to replace the Manchester United man in Kiev when Welbeck extended his remarkable international scoring record.
Showing a neat turn of pace, Welbeck exposed some slack Moldovan defending as he raced onto Lambert's long ball, skipped round Namasco and rolled the ball in. Lambert was the provider for Welbeck's second too, finding his strike partner with a short pass that allowed him to clip a neat effort into the corner.
Milner replaced Lambert before the end in what seemed a clear audition for Welbeck's job, although a woeful injury time miss will not have done much to inspire confidence.