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England: Winners and Losers from World Cup Qualifier Against Moldova

Matt CheethamCorrespondent IOctober 30, 2016

England: Winners and Losers from World Cup Qualifier Against Moldova

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    The last time England set foot in Moldova, way back in 1996, goals from Nicky Barmby, Paul Gascoigne and Alan Shearer set the wheels in motion for Glenn Hoddle's solitary World Cup qualifying campaign.

    Fast forward 16 years and Jermain Defoe, James Milner, Leighton Baines and a Frank Lampard brace launched Roy Hodgson's quest for Brazil 2014 in similarly emphatic style.

    With a raft of personnel missing due to injuries of varying severity, this match allowed others a chance to take the stage and impress the England manager.

    Here is a look at who managed to do just that, and who may be wishing they contributed a little more.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Winner

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    In a team performance in which most attacking entities excelled, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was one of the most effective players on the pitch.

    Industrious, energetic and constantly looking to attack at pace, Leighton Baines' willingness to overlap enabled him to drift in from the left and take up several awkward positions for Moldova to track.

    This ensured he gave his opposite man a torrid evening and it was his sharp interplay that made the third goal, for Jermain Defoe to finish off.

    Roy Hodgson seems very keen on the Arsenal youngster, who seems poised to play a major role in this qualification campaign.

Michael Carrick: Loser

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    Despite having won many admirers with his performance against Italy, where he dictated the tempo and enabled his team to play with a large portion of possession, Michael Carrick once again had to make do with a place on the bench tonight.

    Having semi-retired before Euro 2012, presumably unhappy with the amount of time England had already kept him in reserve, this cannot have been a call he was especially enamoured with.

    Once off the bench, he was solid enough, without ever grasping as much control of the passing game as he would have liked.

    Having amassed 24 caps over a painstakingly long 11-year period, rightly or wrongly it seems Carrick will once again have to make do with being a peripheral figure along the road to Rio.

Frank Lampard: Winner

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    Lampard's two-goal salvo in the opening half hour gave England the perfect start, and extinguished any pre-match anxieties.

    He gave one of his more energetic displays in an England jersey, exploiting his opponent's poor marking with several of his trademark late surges into the box.

    For his two goals, the Chelsea man was once again ruthless from the penalty spot and then deftly glanced in a header for his second, from a well weighted Glen Johnson delivery.

    Playing alongside Steven Gerrard, it is doubtful Roy Hodgson would be entirely comfortable using the pair together against the top nations, considering their lack of success as a duo in the past. Therefore Lampard's contribution was a timely reminder of his class.

Leighton Baines: Winner

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    Given Ashley Cole's seemingly untouchable status in the England squad there hasn't been a battle for the nation's left-back jersey for over a decade, though Baines' strong performance tonight should do enough to keep his rival on his toes.

    Everton's creative marvel was constantly available for support, kept Moldova stretched across the pitch, and stayed relatively in control at the back.

    Cole has been a world class performer for over a decade at international level and it would take a lot to dislodge him from the side. However, if England can harness the type of creative form Baines consistently produces at Everton, he could prove effective breaking down stubborn defences.

    Cole is yet to register an international goal in almost 100 games, so for Baines to notch his first, however fortunate it was, only helps his cause.

Danny Welbeck: Loser

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    After starting all of England's Euro 2012 fixtures, Welback may have been surprised to see his name omitted from the starting lineup.

    Many assumed he would be a certainty to start, but Jermain Defoe's impressive cameo against Italy prompted Hodgson to give the Tottenham striker the nod.

    Welbeck will also be disappointed he could not provide more of an impact when coming off the bench, given the unorganised defence standing in front of him.

    With Robin van Persie's arrival at Manchester United likely to cost Welbeck chunks of playing time at club level, tonight would have been a good time to remind Hodgson of his worth.

Tom Cleverley: Winner

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    As with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cleverley was one of the brightest features of England's attacking play tonight, as Moldova struggled to suppress his threat.

    Generally roaming around behind the front man, the Manchester United midfielder was heavily involved in some quick, incisive moves and won England their controversial third-minute penalty.

    Lively and energetic throughout, he was behind much of England's creative artistry and was unlucky not to score himself. Certainly another encouraging night for a youngster with a blossoming reputation.


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