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Flashback: England v Moldova

This Friday, England face Moldova in World Cup qualifying and it is the first time the nations have met since the qualification stages for France 98.

Way back in September 1997, the Three Lions thrashed the European minnows 4-0 at Wembley Stadium in Group 2.

This time the Moldovans face England once more with the equally unenviable task of claiming an unlikely result, with Roy Hodgson’s side the strong favourites for not only the game but overall supremacy in Group H.

Total Football’s Taylor Williams flashes back to that game in 1997 whereby only a psychic could have foreseen the meteoric rise of Michael Owen, penalty shootout heartache and the dramatic dismissal of David Beckham and all of that in Saint-Etienne!

Seaman is chosen as captain 

David Seaman became England captain for the first time in the game against Moldova in September 1997. This represented the first English goalkeeping captain since Peter Shilton in a third place play-off game during Italia 90.

The Three Lions went into the game with Italy their main rivals in Group 2. The Azzurri were facing Georgia, whilst a win over Moldova would put England in the driving seat, only requiring a draw against Italy in their final fixture.

Paul Gascoigne claimed aplomb for his performance in the match but there were also exciting displays from David Beckham, Les Ferdinand and back then a young Paul Scholes, who was making his breakthrough on the international stage.

Glenn Hoddle’s side made the eventual breakthrough on 29 minutes as Manchester United pairing Beckham and Scholes combined for the opener.

Beckham’s corner was punched away by Moldova stopper Roumanenco back into the feet of the star midfielder, who crossed for a second time successfully onto the head of Scholes who was surprised as anyone to connect amidst a tall Moldovan backline.

Resurrecting shortcomings 

With the score 1-0 at half time, the Three Lions fans may have expected some more gloss to the scoreline, considering the status of their opponents but it didn’t take them long in the second half to resurrect their shortcomings.

Gascoigne, who was instrumental throughout, strode forward with the ball having stolen it 40 yards out and played a superb one-two with Ian Wright (pictured) before the Arsenal man struck the ball in at the near post.

With the Three Lions comfortable at 2-0, Hoddle made some alterations with Stuart Ripley replacing a fiery young Beckham who was already on a yellow card.

Unfortunately for Ripley, he only lasted until the 75th minute after pulling a hamstring with Nicky Butt his replacement.

There were two more strikes right at the end of the game with Gascoigne getting the goal his performance deserved on 89 minutes and Wright completing his brace in injury time.

Line-ups

England: Seaman, G.Neville, Southgate, Campbell, Beckham (Ripley 67,) (Butt 75,) Batty, Gascoigne, P.Neville, Scholes, Ferdinand (Collymore 82,) Wright. Subs not used: Pallister, Walker, Le Saux, Lee

Moldova: Roumanenco, Stroenco, Fistican, Tistimitstanu, Spinu, Shishkin (Popovici 60,) Curteam, Culibaba (Suharev 52,) Rebetadj, Miterev, Rogaciov (Cibotari 74,). Subs not used: Dinov, Epureariu, Tolocorucov

Attendance: 74,102 (Wembley Stadium, London)

Referee: Mr K E Nilsson (Sweden)

By Taylor Williams - Follow me on Twitter @Taylor_Will1989 - Visit my blog - thetrickywinger.blogspot.com

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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