England defeat Malta 5-0 in second Elite Round match.
England 5-0 Malta
UEFA European U17 Championship
Elite Qualifying Round Group 7
7pm, Monday 29 March 2010
The Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion FC
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England cruised to a 5-0 victory over Malta in the second match of their Elite Qualifying Round, meaning they require just a point against Slovakia on Thursday to make it through to the UEFA European U17 Championship Finals in May.
John Peacock’s young side produced a wholly competent performance throughout and went in at half-time 4-0 up. They could even afford for Chuks Aneke to miss a penalty in the 64th minute, though Harry Kane did make amends from the spot, despatching England’s fifth goal on 72 minutes.
However, it was Aneke who opened the scoring on 19 minutes, drilling a low shot beyond Carlos Dimech in the Malta goal, and William Keane made it 2-0 after half-an-hour with a crisp finish following some neat footwork. Then, two goals in a minute confirmed England’s dominance and put the result beyond doubt. First, Aneke grabbed his second of the match with a finish reminiscent of his first goal and Benik Afobe made it four soon after, guiding Luke Garbutt’s cross over the line at the near post.
England’s 4-0 defeat of Sweden on Saturday, coupled with the Swede’s 2-0 win over Slovakia earlier in the day, means the Young Lions need to just avoid defeat against the Slovaks on Thursday to book their tickets to Liechtenstein for the Finals.
Peacock made four changes from Saturday's team. Sam Johnstone’s sending off rendered him unavailable, while Louis Laing came in for Nathaniel Chalobah at centre-back, Robert Hall replaced George Thorne in midfield and Aneke came in for Connor Wickham and played just behind Afobe upfront.
As early as the opening five minutes, it was clear Peacock’s young side would control the game as they barely allowed Malta a sniff of the ball. The first effort of the game came from the left foot of Josh McEachran, who was playing in a more central role than he did against Sweden, but the ball just curled narrowly over the bar.
England didn’t have to wait too long to break the deadlock, however, and it came courtesy of a sweeping drive from Aneke after 19 minutes. He received the ball on the edge of the area and planted a firm, right-foot shot into the bottom corner.
After a sighter just moments before, Benik Afobe almost made it 2-0 in the 23rd minute after some good work by Keane on the left flank. The Manchester United man cut inside past Lee Galea and delivered a beautiful cross which Afobe headed onto the bar.
With the hosts in total control, the ball and crossbar were reacquainted after another long-range effort from McEachran. It appeared only a matter of time before England would extend the lead and just a minute later it was 2-0. Possession was shared between Keane, McEachran and Luke Garbutt on the left flank, before Keane advanced into the box, nutmegged Christian Grech with some clever feet and swept the ball into the far corner for his second goal in as many games.
If his sparkling performance from the bench against Sweden had pushed Hall to the front of Peacock’s thinking, the young Hammer almost justified his starting berth with another wonderful goal after his quick feet took him beyond three Maltese defenders, but he couldn’t beat Dimech at his near post.
Ten minutes before half-time, Aneke as good as ended the game as a contest with another goal from the edge of the area after Malta failed to clear their lines. The Arsenal player brought down a bouncing ball just outside the penalty arc and powered a shot beyond Dimech, albeit with the help of a deflection off Zach Muscat.
If thoughts were beginning to drift towards equalling the result against Sweden, England needed to wait less than a minute for those thoughts to come to fruition as Afobe turned home a Garbutt cross at the near post to put the result beyond doubt. Skipper, Conor Coady, might have bettered the score before the half-time whistle but saw his shot saved by Dimech.
A deflected Steve Agius free-kick and a yellow card for Michael Camilleri was all Malta had to offer in a disappointing first half.
With a healthy lead at the break, Peacock took the opportunity to rest McEachran and Garbutt after exceptional first-half performances, with Kane and Jack Robinson coming on in their place respectively.
England continued to dominate after the interval, but were unable to fashion many clear-cut chances. It appeared Malta had resigned themselves to damage limitation and attempted to frustrate their hosts for one half at least. Indeed, it took England 16 minutes to register their first effort at goal in the second half and it was hat-trick-seeking Aneke who had the effort but he dragged his shot wide.
Saido Berahino received his first run-out of this Elite Round when he came on for Afobe and he was straight into the action, collecting Bruno Pilatos’ cross inside the box, swivelling, but hitting his shot straight at Dimech.
On 64 minutes, after Hall was felled inside the box by Muscat, Aneke had the opportunity to finally net his hat-trick, but saw his penalty rebound back off the bottom of the left-hand post. On 72 minutes England were awarded a second penalty, this time taken by Kane, who had been brought down for the spot-kick. The Spurs man made no mistake and sent Dimech the wrong way.
There was less fluidity to England’s play in the second half, but they were nevertheless still able to construct some neat passing moves without the end product of the opening 40 minutes. The four first-half goals had effectively sealed the victory and Kane’s spot-kick simply put a fine gloss on a polished England performance.England
13 Jack Butland, 14 Bruno Pilatos, 2 Louis Laing, 3 Luke Garbutt (12 Jack Robinson, 41), 4 Conor Coady (C), 6 Andre Wisdom, 7 William Keane, 9 Benik Afobe (18 Saido Berahino, 55), 10 Chuks Aneke, 11 Robert Hall, 15 Josh McEachran (16 Harry Kane, 41)Substitutes not used
5 Nathaniel Chalobah, 8 George Thorne, 17 Connor WickhamHead Coach
Chuks Aneke 19, 36, William Keane 30, Benik Afobe 37, Harry Kane 72Malta
12 Carlos Dimech, 2 Lee Galea, 3 Steve Agius, 6 Zach Muscat (C), 9 Michael Camilleri (4 Brandon Gatt, 41), 10 Bjorn Kristensen, 11 Sacha Borg, 12 Carlos Dimech, 15 Ian Scerri (5 John Micallef, 73), 16 Dylan D’Agostino (8 Terrance Agius, 62), 17 Ryan Dalli, 18 Christian GrechSubstitutes not used
1 Yenz Cini, 7 Christina Briffa, 13 Siraj Eddin Arab, 14 John DebonoHead Coach
Charles ScerriMatch OfficialsReferee
Igor Pristovnik (CRO)Assistant Referees
Igor Krmar (CRO)&Stelios Nikita (CYP)Fourth Official