England strolled to a comfortable 4-0 win against Moldova in their World Cup 2014 qualifying group clash, keeping pace with Montenegro ahead of their vital meeting with Ukraine on Tuesday.
Steven Gerrard broke the deadlock with a low, powerful strike in the 12th minute and, from then on, the hosts looked completely in control, meeting the expectations of a less-than-full Wembley.
Rickie Lambert, making his first international start, continued his 100 per cent scoring record at international level with a simple header midway through the first half before turning provider twice for Danny Welbeck. The Manchester United youngster sped through a bewildered defence just before half-time and again finished coolly shortly afterwards.
The result was significant for England, who moved to the top of Group H on goal difference.
England now have 15 points from seven matches, while Montenegro – who drew 1-1 with Poland on Friday – also have the same tally, but from one game extra.
Ukraine are snapping at both of their heels on 14 points from seven games after thrashing San Marino 9-0, and with just one side automatically qualifying for next year's tournament in Brazil, the stakes will be high in the remainder of the group stages.
Chelsea pair Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole returned to Hodgson's starting line-up for England, while Lambert was involved from the start after scoring the winner on debut against Scotland last month.
Wayne Rooney was the headline exclusion for the hosts, with the Manchester United forward still suffering from a head injury, while Leighton Baines and Tom Cleverley dropped to the bench.
Moldova, who made four changes themselves, were quickly on the back foot as winger Theo Walcott won England a corner inside the first 90 seconds.
Lambert headed the chance over, while he thrashed an effort wide shortly after, as England started brightly, and they soon had the lead.
The goal was created down the left, as Cole and Welbeck combined nicely, before Lampard laid off for Gerrard.
And the Liverpool star beat Moldova goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco with a fizzing strike from distance that went in off the inside of the post.
Walcott had a goal ruled out for offside in the aftermath, while Jack Wilshere and Lampard tested Namasco in a two-minute spell that ended with a second goal for the hosts.
Walcott and Welbeck had further opportunities, while a neat Moldova move saw Sergiu Gheorghiev shoot well wide under pressure from Phil Jagielka.
England sealed their victory on the stroke of half-time, though, as Welbeck, who was booked for ignoring an offside flag – which will rule him out of Tuesday's qualifier in Ukraine – responded within a minute with a goal.
Lambert supplied Welbeck with an inch-perfect cross and the Manchester United forward took a touch beyond the hapless Namasco and tapped in to give his country a 3-0 lead at the break.
It took just five minutes in the second half for England to extend their lead, as Lambert and Welbeck combined to superb effect again.
Lambert drifted out to the left to win the ball and split the defence with a neat ball, and Welbeck did the rest, dinking over the onrushing Namasco to wrap up the result.
|9||D. Welbeck||45+1' 45+1' 51'|
|Coach: R. Hodgson|
for A. Cole 46'
for J. Wilshere 59'
for R. Lambert 71'
|Captain Howedes extends Schalke stay|
|M´Vila keen to stay if Sunderland survive|
|Johnson admits child sex and grooming charges|
|Amazing Mahrez is one of Premier League´s best - Ulloa|
|Ronaldo, Messi rivalry good for football - Zidane|
|Barros Schelotto leaves Palermo|
|Age is just a number - Ilori defends Klopp´s team selection|
|Messi, Suarez and Neymar rested for Copa second leg|
|Madrid can dream of trophies under Zidane - Raul|
|Ancelotti: Italy job is a decade away|
|Reus will become a monster, says Dortmund boss Tuchel|
|Young Tottenham stars don´t know their limits - Lloris|
|Niang happy at Milan despite Leicester interest|
|Ticket price rise means more tourist fans, warns football supporters chairman|
|Ogbonna revels in first West Ham goal|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Huracan, River Plate advance to group stages|
|Klopp backs Benteke to rediscover goalscoring form|
|Turan will not leave Barca for China - agent|
|Beating Chelsea more difficult without Mourinho - Motta|
|Tuchel praises Dortmund for ´perfect game´|
|Klopp rues Liverpool wastefulness in FA Cup loss|
|Allegri: Chelsea rumours unfounded|
|Bilic feels weight of history after Liverpool win|
|Coupe de France Review: Second tier Sochaux stun Ligue 1 Monaco|
|West Ham 2 Liverpool 1 (aet): Ogbonna sinks Klopp´s men in cup thriller|
|Football League Review: Rhodes rescues a point to send Boro top|
|Stuttgart 1 Borussia Dortmund 3: Aubameyang helps Tuchel´s men into last four|
|Kyle Allen blames chaotic Texas A&M culture on Johnny Manziel era|
|Dortmund fans stage protest against ticket prices for Stuttgart game|
|Bayer Leverkusen 1 Werder Bremen 3: 10-man hosts dumped out|
|Ferdinand fears title wilderness for United|
|Carvalho lands new Sporting deal with €45m buy-out clause|
|Ben Arfa out for at least four weeks with hamstring injury|
|Neville´s Valencia woes welcomed by Crespo|
|Ozil key to Arsenal´s title hopes - Rosicky|
|Zika threat could keep Solo from Rio Olympics|
|Blanc pleased to have solved David Luiz matter|
|Atletico midfielder Partey suffers thigh strain|
|Dickov: Leicester title run built to last|
|Guardiola not a menace for our players, says Luis Enrique|
|Mexico v Senegal: Osorio believes in youngsters|
|Celta Vigo v Sevilla: Krohn-Dehli not taking Copa del Rey final for granted|
|Madrid confirm Marcelo shoulder dislocation|
|Injury rules Chiellini out of crucial Juve games|
|Oblak extends Atletico deal|
|Blanc hints PSG could move for Ben Arfa|
|Luis Enrique urges Neymar to cope with off-field distractions|
|Carrick: Manchester United not throwing in towel|
|Neville determined to turn things around at Valencia|
|Guardiola hails Lewandowski professionalism amid Real Madrid and PSG rumours|
|Guardiola wary of ´aggressive´ Bochum|
|Premier League reveals new logo|
|West Ham open Payet contract talks|
|I could leave Barcelona for Guardiola, says Busquets|
|Giggs can be Manchester United´s Guardiola - Robson|
|Zidane has everything to become a great coach - Ancelotti|
|Carragher: Liverpool got it wrong on ticket prices|
|Neymar will be at Barcelona for years, claims director|
|Eder talks up Inter´s Scudetto chances|
|Larsson: Watching Barca is like playing FIFA|
|City recruit Wilkinson hoping to debut in Melbourne derby|
|Allegri will join Chelsea, says former coach|
|Zanetti: No need to compare Maradona and Messi|
|Vardy: I never expected Leicester to top Premier League|
|Capello: Ronaldo has at least three years at the top|
|Klopp hoping for Sturridge revival|
|Bilic wants new contract to keep Payet at West Ham|
|Shelvey can be as good as Cabaye - Sissoko|
|Rooney leaps to Depay defence after Chelsea error|
|Januzaj, Varela injured in United Under-21s win|
|Valencia v Barcelona: Luis Enrique eyes record as Neville stands on the brink|
|Espanyol 0 Real Sociedad 5: Vela scores stunner in ruthless display|
|Cruyff would have preferred Guardiola at Manchester United|
|Questioning Ronaldo is an insult - Aduriz|
|Peterborough United v West Brom: Berahino set for another chance|
|Barcelona confirm medical tests for Messi|
|Ajax defender Riedewald out for season with broken ankle|
|Barcelona is the best place for Neymar - Mascherano|
|Clement axed as Derby head coach|
|Chelsea defender Zouma out for the season|
|Rodgers: I´ve turned down Swansea and four other clubs since Liverpool|
|Russia to invite Blatter and Platini to World Cup 2018|
|Robben rejoices as Ribery resumes Bayern training|
|Terry as good as ever, says Azpilicueta|
|Struggling Rotherham sack Redfearn|
|Courtois feels Champions League or FA Cup glory would save Chelsea´s season|
|Paris Saint-Germain v Lyon: Genesio vows ´unlucky´ visitors will have a go|
|Liverpool cancel Q&A to discuss ticket price furore|
|Klopp: Liverpool won´t follow Payet to the toilet|
|Bochum v Bayern Munich: Alonso braced for intense month|
|Ronaldo: Two more years at Real Madrid and then we´ll see|
|No problems with Kagawa says Dortmund boss Tuchel|
|Laporte denies saying he would reject Barcelona|
|Impressive Sturridge and returning Coutinho in contention - Klopp|
|Leicester were afraid of Italian tactics - Ranieri reveals his secret|
|Coentrao sustains fractured foot|
|Barcelona director at ease over Neymar future|
|Mata touched by reaction of Chelsea fans|
|Alonso: Guardiola departure not a distraction|
|Thiago Silva: PSG can stay unbeaten all season|
|Cristiano Ronaldo will keep breaking records - Hugo Sanchez|
|Bilic: Klopp will be back because he is a leader|
|Mancini dismisses Inter title bid as ´a closed story´|
|Guardiola took Bayern for a ride - Hamann|
|Mihajlovic demands more from Balotelli|
|Campbell urges clubs to give black managers a chance|
|Marchisio expects Napoli showdown to be decisive|
|You can´t expect to score lots of goals in every game - Modric|
|FFA hit Wanderers with show cause notice|
|We did not deserve Madrid defeat - Granada coach|
|Mata frustrated with Chelsea draw|
|Valencia won´t sack Neville - Mendieta|
|Senna makes Villarreal return|
|Spalletti: Roma need to cut out lapses|
|China will break $100m transfer fee - Cahill|
|Ranieri: Don´t look down|
|Guardiola reinvented football - Alaba|
|Tottenham fear no one - Kane|
|Flores believes Tottenham are Premier League´s best|
|Henderson: Walkout no excuse for Sunderland collapse|
|Neville bullish about Valencia future|
|Ramos: Modric key for Madrid|
|La Liga Review: Luis Enrique matches Guardiola record, Modric rescues Madrid|