Peter Taylor's England beat Tunisia 2-0 in the opening match of their Toulon Tournament campaign.
England 2-0 Tunisia
Stade Mayol, Toulon
02 June 2005
Peter Taylor's England Under-20s have beaten Tunisia in the opening match of their Toulon Tournament campaign.
Tunisia proved to be a good test for Taylor's side and in the first half, England were thankful to some good saves from Reading goalkeeper Jamie Young.
However England broke the deadlock three minutes after the break when Newcastle United forward Darren Ambrose headed home and five minutes later Wayne Routledge made it 2-0 with a superb strike.
If England thought they would have it all their own way, they were given a rude awakening after six minutes when centre-back Oualid Hichri hit a 25-yard volley past Young only to see his effort strike the crossbar.
James Milner, the most experienced player in Taylor's side, had England's first effort on goal, but it was Tunisia who were on the front foot and they went close through Youssef Mouihbi.
The England players' movement looked a little laboured and the fleet-footed Tunisians were forcing them into making mistakes, especially giving away possession in midfield.
Milliti and Kadri both went close but towards the end of the half England were beginning to find their feet and showed their class going forward when Routledge combined with with Milner, who was closed down as he shaped to shoot.
England's patient play almost paid dividends five minutes before the break when Liam Rosenior advanced from his right-back position, exchanged passes with Bradley Wright-Phillips, only to shoot across agonisingly wide of the Tunisian goal.
The second half saw a much improved performance from Taylor's Lions and by the end of the game, England could have won by more than the two goals they scored in the first eight minutes of the period.
Milner gained possession on the left-wing in the 44th minute and cut inside before playing the ball onto the overlapping Peter Whittingham.
The 20-year-old midfielder, who had just come for Liam Ridgewell, beat his man and whipped in an excellent cross to the unmarked Ambrose to head home from eleven yards.
England were on top and suddenly the composure in the Tunisians' build-up play was gone.
Captain John Welsh found Wright-Phillips, making his first start for England at any level, who quickly offloaded to find Routledge in space on the edge of the box, and the Crystal Palace winger applied a stunning finish from 20 yards.
That double strike seemed to end any hopes that the Tunisian players had of pulling off a surprise and their misery was compounded when Kadri was sent-off for a poor challenge on Routledge.
With fifteen minutes left Preston's David Nugent became another England debutant by replacing Davies, who had earlier been booked, while Routledge nearly got a second goal but his lob was narrowly wide.
After the match Peter Taylor spoke to TheFA.com: "It's good to get a win under our belt and overall I was happy with the way the lads performed.
"In the first half we were a little sloppy and didn't play like we know we can. The boys just switched off a little though to be fair the Tunisians looked sharp and I thought they did well."
Taylor continued: "However the boys did work hard and stuck together and then in the second half they played much more like a team.
"It was very frustrating watching in the first half because I know how good they are and just what they can do.
"But it is difficult for them as they've had a couple of weeks off and suddenly they have to re-focus and concentrate on the job at hand, which is not easy."
However Taylor was obviously far happier with the much-improved second half performance as his side scored two quick goals to take the game away from Tunisia.
"The second [half] was much better," he continued. "The goal obviously gave us a lot of confidence and after we took the lead that set us off."
The result is a great start for England, who now face Portugal on Saturday and South Korea on Monday.
England U20s v Tunisia, Toulon Tournament, 02 June 2005
England: Jamie Young - Reading, Liam Rosenior - Fulham (Scott Wiseman - Hull City, 70), Andy Davies - Middlesbrough (David Nugent - Preston North End, 65), Steven Taylor - Newcastle United, Liam Ridgewell - Aston Villa (Peter Whittingham - Aston Villa, 40), Wayne Routledge - Crystal Palace, John Welsh - Liverpool, Tom Huddlestone - Derby County, James Milner - Newcastle United, Bradley Wright-Phillips - Manchester City, Darren Ambrose - Newcastle United
Goals: Ambrose 43, Routledge 48