England 1-0 Moldova Saido Berahino's early goal proved sufficient as Gareth Southgate's first game at the England helm ended in a narrow Group 1 victory.
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Gareth Southgate's reign as England manager got off to a winning start as Saido Berahino's effort proved decisive against Moldova in UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 1.
England controlled the match, their first in the section, from start to finish, yet despite Berahino giving the home side a 13th-minute lead they were unable to add to their tally.
Berahino may have struck even earlier than he did were it not for a smart save from Alexei Koselev and the goalkeeper also had to be alert to deny Andre Wisdom. West Bromwich Albion FC forward Berahino had scored a hat-trick on his debut in the League Cup last week and he continued his rich vein of form with the opener following a through ball from the creative Thomas Carroll.
Moldova's best chance to level came on the stroke of half-time when Cătălin Carp's close-range header from Vadim Raţa's free-kick found the side netting, but with that opportunity spurned, England re-established their dominance after the break.
Wilfried Zaha and Nathan Redmond were a constant threat on the wings, and when the latter went off midway through the second half Sammy Ameobi continued to cause problems on the left flank. Carroll pulled the strings in midfield, though a clutch of efforts from the edge of the area could not double the advantage, while substitute William Hughes was denied on the goal line by Iurie Mîrza in the final minute.
"It was a bit difficult tonight with the way they defended," said England midfielder Redmond. "They got a lot of bodies back and made it hard to cross the ball and made us play in the tight areas, but we came out, stuck to our game plan and got the win. It was one of those games where we failed to convert chances, but we'll just go onto the next match and try and carry on."
That next match is on Monday, when England head to Group 1 pacesetters Finland. Moldova, who now have three points from three games, host Wales a day later as they look to avenge a 1-0 defeat in the reverse fixture in March.