Last month Cole had been thrown on to grab a late, late equaliser in a Wembley friendly against the Czech Republic. This time, however, the stakes were far higher and the Chelsea midfielder delivered again.
"I was just told to try and make things happen," said Cole, who found the net with virtually his first touch after coming on for Stewart Downing. Cole grabbed his second six minutes later by applying a finishing touch to arguably the best move of the match.
It wasn't pretty, but Cole's double at least lifts spirits as Fabio Capello heads for Zagreb to mastermind Wednesday's revenge mission against England's Euro 2008 conquerors Croatia.
"The game had been flat and needed a spark, though it was never easy,' added Cole. 'They made it difficult for us and the pitch was very sticky. Confidence had been a bit low so this was a big step for us."
The defiant Capello, grateful for the reprieve at the start of a critical week, promised not to play for a draw in Croatia.
"We had a lot of chances and I'm happy tonight because it's a very important three points," he said. "Croatia will be another game, not like this. We have to play to win, always."