LONDON (AP) — 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 Kiev 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 Kiev 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.