England 4-0 Austria
England Under-21s make it nine wins from their last nine games
England 4-0 Austria
An England Under-21s International
American Express Community Stadium, Brighton & Hove Albion FC
7.45pm, Monday 25 March 2013
By Jamie Bradbury in Brighton
England Under-21s made it nine wins in nine games with another convincing victory, but it took a sending off just before half-time to get them on their way.
Jonjo Shelvey, Josh McEachran, Marvin Sordell and Connor Wickham netted as Stuart Pearce’s side also kept another clean sheet against nine-man Austria who had a player sent off in each half.
The win sends England off to Euro 2013 in stunning form and they will harbour real hopes when they arrive in Israel in June.
Pearce made five changes to the starting eleven against Romania four days earlier giving an opportunity to those coming in to stake their claim for a place on the plane in June.
Captain Jordan Henderson was given a rest, too, only the second Under-21s game in two years that the Liverpool man didn’t start. The armband was worn instead by Craig Dawson, one of the side’s most important and committed players during this campaign.
On the back of eight straight wins and eight excellent days together on the training pitch, England took a little time to click into gear on a cold night in Brighton and were given a number of testing moments by the Austrians
Leeds United defender Tom Lees came close with an early header after connecting well with Shelvey’s inswinging corner. Nat Chalobah also had a great chance following a burst forward but sent his shot over the bar following a one-two with Andros Townsend.
But at the other end Pearce’s men come under serious fire through a period of Austrian pressure.
Skipper Raphael Holzhauser tested Jason Steele twice, first with a near post drive following a powerful run down the right, then a long-range lob. Though the ‘Boro man won those two battles, the visitors could sense a chance to end England’s excellent defensive record.
Robert Zulj was the next to worry the home side, after finding a bit of space on the edge of the area, he turned past Dawson before shooting, but pulled the effort just wide. Then Kevin Wimmer almost put the icing on a series of Austrian corners, but fired wide after England only half-cleared.
Then a moment of misfortune for Werner Gregoritsch side finally saw the game open up and England take the lead.
Austrian keeper Richard Strebinger came out to the edge of his area to claim a ball forward, but slipped and carried it out of the box. The linesman signed the infringement and referee Adrian Jaccottet brandished a red card to the Werder Bremen youngster.
Having moments earlier seen a shot just miss the upright, Jonjo Shelvey took the free-kick and unleashed a powerful drive that replacement stopper Christophe Riegler could do little about.
Chalobah came very close to extending England’s lead twice in stoppage time, firing wide with one and then seeing Riegler tip his tremendous 25-yard volley over the bar.
It was the Watford youngster’s last involvement as he, Rose and Dawson came off at the break with McEachran, Jack Robinson and Adam Smith coming on. And with their first attack, England doubled their lead and put the game out of sight for the Austrians.
McEachran’s effort was blocked by a hand of Patrick Farkas inside the box and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. The visitors misery was compounded when the Mattersburg defender was dismissed for a second yellow card leaving then with nine men left on the field.
It was McEachran who stepped up to take the kick, and having missed one last month against Sweden, he calmly stroked the ball into the corner for 2-0.
From then on it was just wave after wave of England attacks. Jason Lowe and Wickham both had chances before the Sunderland striker laid one on a plate for substitute Sordell and the Bolton Wanderers forward tucked away with ease.
Man of the Match Wickham finally got in the act himself shortly after watching his 18 yard volley go wide.
Jordan Henderson played him through into the Austrian half and the 19-year-old opened out before rounding the keeper and tucking the ball home.
Kevin Wimmer almost nicked a consolation that would have ended England’s excellent defensive record with the very last kick of the game, but he missed the target from ten yards.
England can now look forward to 5 June and will hope to continue their run when they meet Italy in their opening game of Euro 2013 in Tel Aviv.
1 Jason Steele, 2 Andre Wisdom (16 Michael Keane, 77), 3 Danny Rose (14 Jack Robinson, 46), 4 Jason Lowe, 5 Tom Lees (15 Nathaniel Clyne, 74), 6 Craig Dawson (c) (12 Adam Smith, 46), 7 Andros Townsend, 8 Nathaniel Chalobah (18 Josh McEachran, 46), 9 Connor Wickham (19 Nathan Delfouneso, 77), 10 Jonjo Shelvey (20 Marvin Sordell, 61), 11 Raheem Sterling (17 Jordan Henderson, 61)
Sub not used
13 Jack Butland
1 Richard Strebinger, 2 Florian Neuhold, 5 Kevin Wimmer, 6 Tobias Kainz (3 Christian Schilling, 70), 7 Marcel Sabitzer (16 Dominik Starkl, 83) 8 Raphael Holzhauser (c) (9 Daniel Offenbacher, 77), 10 Robert Zulj (21 Christoph Riegler, 38), 12 Patrick Farkas, 14 Florian Kainz (20 Marcel Ritzmaier), 15 Simon Piesinger, 18 Lukas Spendlhofer (13 Matthias Maak, 87)
Subs not used
4 Marcel Ziegl, 11 Michael Gregoritsch
Patrick Farkas, Kevin Wimmer
Richard Strebinger, Patrick Farkas
Adrien Jaccottet (SUI)
Sladen Josipovic (SUI) and Alain Heiniger (SUI)
Darren Sheldrake (ENG)