Winning start for U17s
Alex Kiwomya's second-half goal secures Euro qualifying win over Portugal
A gutsy performance from ten-man England saw of Portugal in their first game of the Elite Qualifying Round at St. George’s Park.
Alex Kiwomya’s cool finish early in the second half won it for England, after Mason Bennett was sent off just before the break.
In swirling snow and freezing temperatures it was England who forced all of the early running.
As early as the fifth minute Bennett flashed a shot across goal before Kean Bryan drilled just wide from the edge of the box.
And Dan Crowley went close after capitalising on a defensive error before chipping inches over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
The visitors came back into the game with Rui Moreira pouncing on an error to shoot low, saved well by the legs of England goalkeeper Angus Gunn.
Then Portugal defender Joao Lima was inches from putting his side ahead, heading wide from Sergio Ribiero’s cross.
England were reduced to ten men, five minutes from half time. Bennett’s tackle on Clever Franca earned the England forward a straight red card.
But it was the hosts who took the lead five minutes into the second half. Crowley did well to hold off his man and play the ball into the path of Kiwomya, who showed great composure to take it past the 'keeper and score from an acute angle.
It was almost two within four minutes when Ben O’Hanlon beat the offside trap. His shot was half saved before Lima cleared off the line.
Portugal’s Jose Postiga had a couple of chances to equalise, poking inches wide while also claiming for a penalty that was dismissed by the referee.
Despite the visitors having the better of the second half in terms of possession, the ten men of England held on for the victory.
England will hope to build on this as they host Russia at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium on Monday night.