The Manchester United winger struck on the 35 minute mark after good work down the opposite flank by former Aston Villa team-mate Stewart Downing, relieving some of the pressure on the home side.
Despite creating chances The Three Lions could not convert to further their advantage, and were luck not to be pegged back late on, as Wales substitute striker Robert Earnshaw wasted a glorious chance to equalise, missing the target with an open net gaping.
Fabio Capello’s men now just need a point in their away fixture to Montenegro next month to secure their place in Ukraine and Poland next year.
England boss Fabio Capello was relieved to get the victory, but feels his side need to improve if they are to challenge next summer.
“We need to improve, we are playing better away than at Wembley. Also, we need to recover some players that are out at the moment,” the Italian told reporters after the game.
“We suffered a lot the last 15 mins, the first half we started not well and after we played not so bad. We scored a goal. The second half for 20-25 minutes we played well but we suffered and they got plenty of chances to score a goal,” Capello conceded.
The all important clash in Podgorica will be played on October 7th, with England looking odds on to qualify for the European Championships.