Winning send-off for Under-21s
Sunday, 05 June, 2011
Lions beat Norway 2-0 in final Euro warm-up game.
by Jamie Bradbury at St. Mary's Stadium
England enjoyed success in their final European Under-21s Championship send-off match with victory over Norway.
Nearly 18,000 fans at St Mary’s saw Daniel Sturridge and Danny Rose hit a goal apiece during the first half for Stuart Pearce’s men, and they will now head to Denmark on Wednesday full of confidence.
It was an opportunity for the Coach to give 18 of his 23-man squad an opportunity to make it into his plans for the first match of the Finals against Spain. He will go home with plenty to think about, not only for this summer but for when the two nations meet in qualification for Euro 2013 next season.
It was Sturridge’s opener, his fourth in 12 appearances for the Under-21s, that put England in charge with less than ten minutes played. Jordan Henderson clipped a delightful pass over the Norwegian defence and into the path of Ryan Bertrand. The Chelsea full-back still had work to do inside the area, but managed to work the ball across the six-yard box leaving 'keeper Arild Ostbo stranded and his Stamford Bridge team-mate rolled home.
It took 16 minutes for Norway to register their first attempt on target when Flamur Kastrati shot at goal from 18 yards but his strike bounced into the floor and safely into Frank Fielding’s grasp.
The Derby stopper was made to work much harder moments later when Valon Berisha’s long-range drive took a deflection off Mads Stokkelien and looped towards the top corner. Fielding sprung well, though, producing a fine save to turn the ball around the post.
For England, Henderson was pulling the strings in midfield spraying passes to feed the three Daniels, Sturridge, Rose and Welbeck, while Ryan Bertrand was pushing forward from left-back to add to the Three Lions’ attack.
Yet it wasn’t the Sunderland man but the Manchester United defender Chris Smalling whose brilliant raking pass from deep found Rose wide on the left flank. He cut in past the defender before bending emphatically past Ostbo and into the top corner to double England’s advantage.
Pearce made five changes at the break with Tom Cleverley and Marc Albrighton replacing Welbeck and Rose while Kieran Gibbs came on for his first appearance since November 2009 in place of Bertrand. Skipper Michael Mancienne also moved into the midfield slot vacated by Fabrice Muamba and Jack Cork was introduced at right-back.
The changes gave England added energy and Lansbury in particular looked keen to impress with places in next Sunday’s Euro 2011 starting line-up in everyone’s mind.
Sturridge’s goal and all-round performance certainly did his chances of facing Spain no harm and he was inches away from making it three with five minutes played in the second half. But though his curling shot from the left looked to be sneaking inside the far post, the outstretched Ostbo had other ideas, tipping away for a corner.
Smalling also came close with a header from a short corner, but his effort went just off target, Sturridge struck the side-netting after bringing down Tom Cleverley’s cross and Jack Rodwell’s drive from 25 yards worried the 'keeper but it shaved the upright.
Norway rarely troubled Fielding, but he did have to make a strong stop from one goal-bound effort that he gathered at the second attempt and also a full-length save from Harmeet Singh’s shot. If any team was likely to score, though, it would have been England who now had Nathan Delfouneso leading the line up front.
Although they couldn’t add to their tally, England will be happy with their afternoon’s work, two goals, a clean sheet and maintaining an injury-free squad. Two days’ rest with their families now before England re-group to embark on their latest quest for silverware.
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