England U21s rounded off a useful week on the road with an impressive and entertaining 5-1 win over Denmark in Esbjerg on Tuesday evening.
Aidy Boothroyd’s side are preparing for next summer’s U21 EURO Finals and after last week’s victory over Euro hosts Italy, they moved north across Europe to face another of their potential opponents in the shape of the Danes.
- U21 International
- Tuesday 20 November
- Blue Water Arena, Esbjerg, Denmark
- Live on BT Sport
And the Young Lions will return home with plenty of positives after their team performance, but Boothroyd will also know there are areas in which to improve going into 2019.
There was no shortage of entertainment here though, as first-half goals from Demarai Gray and Dominic Solanke put England in control before Solanke added a memorable third after the break and substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin completed the scoring with a late brace.
But England’s opener illustrated just how fluid this team can be, as the move started with right-back Kyle Walker-Peters. He passed into Reiss Nelson, who moved it onto Phil Foden, who took over and placed a pass perfectly into the path of Gray. He took the ball on and past a defender before drilling a clinical finish past keeper Daniel Iversen.
England then doubled their lead five minutes before the break, with another well-worked goal.
Again, Walker-Peters started the move by advancing forward after receiving the ball from keeper Dean Henderson. He picked out a diagonal run from Kieran Dowell, whose cross from the right was perfectly stood up for Solanke to place a text-book header back across goal and into the net.
But within two minutes of Solanke’s goal, Denmark showed their own threat when they caught England out with Andreas Olsen threading a pass to dangerman Marcus Ingvartsen. He calmly took a touch and gave Henderson no chance with a smart finish inside the area.
The Danes made two substitutions at the break to try and stem the English tide from the first half, but there was little they could do to prevent a third goal within two minutes of the restart, thanks to a moment of improvisation from Solanke.
It started with Foden, whose run took him to the edge of the area before his low shot was spilled by Iversen to the feet of Solanke.
The Liverpool striker still had work to do though, as he side-stepped the keeper before wrong-footing two defenders with a back-heel into the goal to take his tally for the week to four goals.
And the fourth goal arrived in the 81st minute when Nelson raced clear down the right before picking out Calvert-Lewin on the edge of the six-yard box to slide home his first goal of the night.
The Everton striker then added a second from the spot after being fouled in the box, confidently despatching his penalty past Iversen to bring the scoring to an end.
It was an excellent end to 2018 for Boothroyd's squad, who will now have all eyes on the draw for the U21 EURO Finals, which takes place in Italy on Friday afternoon.
England U21s: 1 Dean Henderson (Sheffield United, loan from Manchester United), 2 Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham Hotspur), 3 Jay Dasilva (Bristol City, loan from Chelsea), 4 Lewis Cook (AFC Bournemouth), 7 Demarai Gray (Leicester City), 9 Dominic Solanke (Liverpool), 10 Phil Foden (Manchester City), 14 Jack Simpson (AFC Bournemouth), 15 Ezri Konsa (Brentford), 17 Kieran Dowell (Everton), 20 Reiss Nelson (Hoffenheim, loan from Arsenal).
Substitutes: 19 Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) doe Foden 61, 16 Lloyd Kelly (Bristol City) for Dasilva 61, 8 Tom Davies (Everton) for Cook 71, 11 Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham) for Walker-Peters 71, 6 Fikayo Tomori (Derby County, loan from Chelsea) for Gray 71
Substitutes not used: 22 Freddie Woodman (Newcastle United), 13 Angus Gunn (Southampton), 23 Tammy Abraham (Aston Villa, loan from Chelsea)
Head coach: Aidy Boothroyd
Goals: Demarai Gray 31, 47 Dominic Solanke 40, Dominic Calvert-Lewin 81, 86 (p)