England started their campaign to qualify for the 1998 World Cup Finals, to be staged in France, in Moldova. It was the new England Coach's, Glenn Hoddle, first match in charge after succeeding Terry Venables who guided England to the European Championship semi-finals this summer.
With Sheringham, McManaman, Adams and Anderton all missing, Hoddle brought in Everton's Andy Hinchcliffe as an attacking full back, to make his debut. Hinchcliffe's team mate Nick Barmby was awarded his 5th cap. David Beckham was also called into Hoddle's first starting line-up.
England had a shakey start to the first meeting between these 2 sides. Eight minutes into the game Miterev found himself in space in front of England's goal, but his shot was not heart-stopping, fortunately for the visiting team. Five minutes later Moldova made a more threatening move when Miterev received a long pass from Testemitanu, but Seaman managed to capture the ball as Popovici ran in trying to give Moldova the lead.
In quick succession England had their first and second goals. The first came in the 24th minute when Beckham, Neville and Hinchcliffe worked the ball to Barmby. Neville delivering the final cross to Barmby, who having lost his defender put the ball away for his 3rd goal for his country.
The second goal came after Ince and Barmby combined, Ince delivering the final ball for Gascoigne to head the ball passed Romanerico.
Despite being two goals down Moldova didn't surrender and made some encouraging moves through Miterey, Popovici and Curtianu. However, five minutes prior to the interval England should have sealed the match with another goal when Pearce found Shearer, but the English captain was tugged in the area by Testemitani. Appeals for a penalty were dismissed by the Finnish referee. The Newcastle centre forward should have had a goal moments later after Barmby had crossed from the left but Shearer's touch saw the ball go over the bar. It appears though that this miss had more to do with the pitch than Shearer himself.
Sixteen minutes into the second half Southgate picked up a pass from Beckham, who in turn played the ball to fellow Manchester United youngster Neville. This created England's third goal when Neville headed on to Shearer who was then able to lob the Moldovian 'keeper and celebrate his first goal as captain.
With Batty and Le Tissier making second half appearances, England seemed to have the game sewn up but three minutes from time Pearce was adjudged to have handled in the area. Fortunately Testemitanu's strike hit the corner of the woodwork and went back into play.
After Hoddle's first game in charge he said "I was very pleased but there's room for improvement."
Romanenco, Secu, Testimitanu, Nani, Belous, Gaigamscic, Curcianu, Epuraenau, Miterev (Rebeja 61 mins), Popovici, Clescento, Sischin (Belouse 58 mins).
Subs Not Used: Ivanov, Tverpohlebov, Pogorelov, Culibaba, Sischin, Suharev.
Seaman, G Neville, Pearce, Ince, Pallister, Southgate, Beckham, Gascoigne (Batty 81 mins), Shearer, Barmby (Le Tissier 81 mins), Hinchcliffe.
Subs Not Used: Campbell, Walker, Stone, Draper, Ferdinand.
England Scorers: Barmby (24 mins), Gascoigne (25 mins), Shearer (61 mins)
Moldova cautions: Clescento
England cautions: None
Referee: Ilca Koho (Finland)