Saido Berahino helped himself to a brace as England completed their near-perfect qualifying group campaign for the European Under-21 Championships in 2015 with a 3-0 victory in Moldova.Moldova U21 vs England U21 highlights
Gareth Southgate made five changes from the side that won in Lithuania on Friday but it was Berahino, who scored the only goal when these two met at Reading’s Madejski Stadium 12 months ago, who opened the scoring in the first half.
Berahino then scored a well-taken second early in the second-half to seal the win, with Tottenham striker Harry Kane adding a third late on as England enjoyed almost total domination in the final 45 minutes.
England’s first chance came on 13 minutes as Nathan Redmond broke clear. His cross was cleared to Berahino, whose shot was well blocked by the on-rushing Moldova goalkeeper Alexei Koselev.
The same duo combined three minutes later to open the scoring, this time Koselev failing to keep out Berahino’s far-post header after he had been picked out by Redmond after the Norwich winger had exchanged passes with Michael Keane.
Jonathan Bond had to be lively to respond to Igor Dima’s driven shot as the hosts tried to peg England back immediately, with the Watford goalkeeper doing well to hold on to the effort with players closing in.
Redmond continued to look lively, popping up on either flank and causing trouble amongst the Moldova defence as he fired wide when played through by Tom Carroll as England looked to double their lead before the half-hour mark.
Carroll was again the aritchect shortly afterwards, sliding another fine ball into Redmond’s path – with Koselev keeping out the winger’s effort from a tight angle.
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Dima wasted a gilt-edged chance to level 10 minutes before the break as he latched on to a long ball over the England back four before scuffing a tame effort wide of Bond’s goal.
With the game opening up as the half drew to a close, Berahino came close to doubling his tally but the West Brom striker could not make contact with Will Hughes’ cut-back.
Kane, the match-winner in Lithuania, turned provider five minutes into the second half as his perfectly-weighted pass was collected by Berahino, who timed his run and slotted home to put the game beyond Moldova five minutes after the restart.
Berahino had two hat-trick opportunities with the very next attacks, but the forward lifted the ball onto the roof of goal after again latching onto a Kane pass and then saw Koselev beat out his close-range shot after Keane’s pinpoint cross.
Kane then came close as he put a shot just wide as England continued to dominate proceedings, with Redmond arrowing a strike over with 20 minutes to go.
Only a last-ditch challenge from Maxim Focsa prevented Berahino adding a third as Hughes dissected the defence with a clever pass but England finally notched their third goal moments later.
Danny Ings and Tyler Blackett were introduced from the bench and the latter, making his debut at this level, swung a ball forward that was controlled and lifted into the box by Carroll and smashed home by Kane to extend the lead.
Ings should have added a fourth in stoppage time, with Kane seeing another goal ruled out for offside before the final whistle brought to an end a contest which was finished much earlier.Follow @Football7x24