Theo Walcott made an instant impact on his England Under-21 debut, heading in the opener but failing to inspire victory.

In becoming England's youngest Under-21 player, Walcott offered a glimpse of his explosive talent before fading in the second half. Moldova then levelled through Serghei Alexeev's chip before David Nugent restored the lead. Substitute Alexandr Zislis denied the hosts victory, though, levelling for a second time after coming on as a substitute.

This game will inevitably be remembered because of Walcott's debut. The 17-year-old had not started a game since Southampton's defeat to Queens Park Rangers in January and he looked short of match-practice and touch at times, dragging himself wide in a similar style to Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry.

His debut Under-21 goal, however, relied more on instinct than the pace which persuaded Arsene Wenger to invest in the youngster.

Tom Huddlestone calmly floated the ball out wide in the third minute and it was worked to Leighton Baines, with the Wigan full-back's cross from the left finished by Walcott despite the efforts of goalkeeper Llie Cebanu.

Such a positive start lifted the crowd but also meant Peter Taylor's youngsters sat back on their lead and Moldova became increasingly threatening, with Micah Richards required to cover with some last-ditch tackles.

Scott Carson, who has joined Charlton Athletic on loan from Liverpool for the season, almost conceded a comical equaliser after 20 minutes when a ball to the near post was not cleared by Steven Taylor and nearly crept in, only for the pair to recover composure.

England woke from their slumber after the interval, with Anton Ferdinand nearly bundling in from a corner just after the restart.

Walcott was taken off for Birmingham City's Cameron Jerome in the 66th minute and the visitors levelled nine minutes later. Taylor lost possession before the ball was fed to Alexeev, who chipped in.

Nugent, however, restored the lead within a minute, heading in Jerome's cross from the right but substitute Zislis nipped in at the near post with five minutes left.