England 3-0 Romania
Zaha, Robinson and Delfouneso on target as England make it eight on the bounce
England 3-0 Romania
An England Under-21s International
Adams Park, Wycombe Wanderers FC
7.00pm, Thursday 21 March 2013
by Jamie Bradbury at Adams Park
England Under-21s continued their flying form and extended their impressive winning streak with a 3-0 victory over Romania at Adams Park.
It’s now 16 months since Stuart Pearce’s young Lions were last beaten, and last conceded a goal, a run of eight games that will keep their confidence high with the UEFA European Championship fast approaching.
The live-wire Wilfried Zaha bagged his first goal for Pearce’s men in a performance that suggested he could play a big role in Israel this summer. Substitute Jack Robinson added a second on the hour to open his account before Nathan Delfouneso wrapped up the win with two minutes left.
However, there was one concern for England who saw Henri Lansbury limp off early. The home side had come out sharply at the start of the game and a pass into the box was inviting for the Nottingham Forest midfielder.
Romania keeper Laurentiu Branescu was out to deny him the chance, but Lansbury fell awkwardly in the challenge. After a couple of minutes’ treatment on the sideline, he was replaced by Delfouneso.
Pearce’s side were doing well to keep warm on what was a chilly night in Wycombe. The trickery of Zaha and Sterling also got the 6,000-strong crowd going as they almost expected a goal with much of the play in Romanian territory.
Jack Butland, though, was forced into a save when the visitors had their first attack with five minutes played. He was good enough to repel Adrian Avramia’s effort away for a corner.
From then on it was mainly one-way traffic. Sterling and Zaha both causing mayhem in wide areas and the Liverpool man had a trio of decent chances but was unlucky not to find the net. Zaha skipped down the right beating his man with ease and centred for Sterling. His crisp shot was held by Branescu, who then palmed away the winger's next strike from an angle that was heading inside the near post.
Sterling then cut in from the left and drove a rasping shot goalwards, which beat Branescu this time, but grazed the crossbar.
His Liverpool team mates Jordan Henderson and Jonjo Shelvey also came close with free-kicks, but while the captain’s drifted wide, Shelvey’s was pushed around the post by the stopper.
But with 34 minutes played England finally broke the deadlock and it was no surprise that the goal came from Zaha. Sterling played the ball into the feet of the Palace forward on the left of the box, and he drifted into the area before bending into the far corner beyond Branescu.
He had a chance to make it two on the stroke of half-time as well, but couldn’t keep his snap-shot volley down after a mix-up in the Romanian box.
As the sleet started to fall at the start of the second period, Sterling was still keen to get his name on the score sheet. Two efforts from range looked good but didn’t trouble Branescu.
It was his Anfield pals Shelvey and substitute Robinson who combined to double England’s lead on 62 minutes. The midfielder delivered in a floating ball from the right and Robinson was arriving at pace to slam the ball home from close range.
Shelvey was the provider again as Delfouneso netted his fourth for Pearce’s side with just two minutes remaining. A free-kick on the left found the Blackpool forward unmarked at the back and he stroked home to give England a comfortable win.
He almost grabbed another in injury time when the all-action Shelvey again found space on the right to deliver a perfect cross into the path of the forward. Delfouneso connected powerfully with the header but Branescu was strong behind the ball, scooping up at the second attempt.
Pearce's side now head to the south-coast for Monday’s meeting with Austria in Brighton hoping to bring their match preparations for Israel 2013 to a successful conclusion.
1 Jack Butland (13 Jason Steele, 87), 2 Nathaniel Clyne (12 Adam Smith, 74), 3 Danny Rose (14 Jack Robinson, 46), 4 Nathaniel Chalobah (15 Tom Carroll, 74), 5 Andre Wisdom, 6 Craig Dawson, 7 Henri Lansbury (17 Nathan Delfouneso, 6), 8 Jordan Henderson (c) (16 Jason Lowe, 74), 9 Wilfried Zaha (19 Connor Wickham, 87), 10 Jonjo Shelvey , 11 Raheem Sterling (18 Marvin Sordell, 64)
1 Laurentiu Branescu, 2 Nica Constantin (13 Belu Iordache, 79), 3 Cretu Alexandru, 4 Alin Tosca (14 Andrei Peteleu, 70), 5 Adrian Avramia, 6 Mihai Leca (20 Andrei Vastag, 89), 7 Andrei Sereduec (15 Leonard Manole, 46), 8 Romario Benzar (16 Alin Carstocea, 46), 9 Cristian Gavra (17 Vlad Morar, 70), 10 Nicolae Stanciu, 11 Gabriel Iancu, (18 Andrei Herghelegiu, 70)
Subs not used
12 Buzbuchi Alexandru