A first-half strike from debutant Jordan Obita got things underway, as England finally managed to breach a heavy defensive line-up from the men from the Middle East.
Then the game opened up and Gareth Southgate’s side could cruise to victory with Jake Forster-Caskey and Jordan Cousins adding two more after the break.
England U21 3-0 Qatar U21
Stade Leo Lagrange
Wednesday 22 May 2014
And the win could have been even more comprehensive, with England chalking up numerous attempts and chances in the second half to add to their tally.
But Southgate will be pleased with the way his team handled the game against a youthful Qatari side, as they showed patience to keep pressing against what was at times a nine-man defence.
It took the Three Lions nearly 30 minutes to break down their opponents, but when they did, it was a goal worth waiting for.
Some quick passing between Saido Berahino, Forster-Caskey and James Ward-Prowse resulted in the captain shooting from the edge of the area. When that effort was blocked, it landed perfectly for Obita and his angled left-footer flew past Yousef Hassan and into the far corner.
Moments later, England nearly doubled their lead as the ball was worked across the midfield to Josh McEachran. The Chelsea midfielder’s shot beat Hassan and was looping into the goal, but Fahad Abdulrahman was handily placed to head off the line, under pressure from Berahino.
West Brom ace Berahino then found himself with a chance following another good move in the area, with McEachran picking out the striker in space. Berahino did well to side-step his first marker, but over-ran his second touch which allowed Hassan the opportunity to gratefully clutch the ball.
Things did not really change too much after the break, with England always in control and looking to increase their lead.
There could have been another debut goal too, as Solly March stole in to win Luke Garbutt’s corner at the near post but his header went over.
Berahino then turned Tameem Al Muhaza on the left wing to leave his marker for dead, only to see his eventual shot flash narrowly wide of the post.
A rare opportunity for Qatar was then wasted by Akram Afif, as he attempted a shot from a wide free-kick and within seconds, England added their second goal.
And it was a combination from the Brighton & Hove Albion duo which brought it, as March’s run into the box ended with a lay-off for Forster-Caskey, whose left-footer gave Hassan no chance at all.
Forster-Caskey almost had a second immediately after that, with another powerful shot testing Hassan, who made a smart save on this occasion before he whistled another effort inches wide of the post.
Obita also came close to getting his second, after smashing a knock-down from sub Cauley Woodrow just past the post with Hassan still grasping at thin air.
The last kick of the game brought another goal for England, as Hassan mis-kicked a clearance straight to the feet of sub Cousins and the Charlton Athletic midfielder slotted home from 25 yards into an unguarded net to bring the night to an end.
England return to action on Monday, when they take on the mighty Brazil. Two days later they face South Korea, before concluding the group stage next Friday against Colombia.
The winner of Group B goes straight into the tournament final, while the runners-up play Group A's second-best team in a third/fourth place play-off.
England Under-21s (4-2-3-1): 13 Jonathan Bond (Watford); 2 Tyias Browning (Everton), 5 Liam Moore (Leicester City), 16 Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough), 3 Luke Garbutt (Everton); 8 James Ward-Prowse (c) (Southampton), 10 Josh McEachran (Chelsea); 18 Solly March (Brighton & Hove Albion), 14 Jake Forster-Caskey (Brighton & Hove Albion), 7 Jordan Obita (Reading); 9 Saido Berahino (West Bromwich Albion).
Substitutes: 17 Jordan Cousins (Charlton Athletic) for McEachran (59), 19 Cauley Woodrow (Fulham) for Berahino (59), 15 Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon) for Ward-Prowse (69), 12 Brad Smith (Liverpool) for Garbutt (74).
Substitutes not used: 1 Jack Butland (Stoke City, 4 Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea), 6 Michael Keane (Manchester United), 11 Nathan Redmond (Norwich City).
Head coach: Gareth Southgate
Goals: Jordan Obita (30), Jake Forster-Caskey (54), Jordan Cousins (80+2).
Qatar (4-4-1-1): 1 Yousef Hassan (Villareal); 12 Jassim Omer (Red Bull Salzburg), 16 Tameem Al Muhaza (Atletico Madrid), 5 Abdou Serigne (Khor), 23 Fahad Abdulrahman (KAS Eupen); 11 Saidi Brahmi (Khor), 8 Ahmad Doozandeh (KAS Eupen), 18 Assim Madebo (Auxerre), 14 Ahmad Al Saadi (KAS Eupen); 19 Muaz Al Abdien (Lakhwiya); 10 Akram Afif (Villarreal).
Substitutes: 13 Sultan Al Brake (Monaco) for Brahmi (62), 4 Abdullah Ali (Real Madrid) for Afif (68), 7 Husam Hassunin (Auxerre) for Al Saadi (77), 20 Muath Al Salemi (Red Bull Salzburg) for Al Abdien (79).
Substitutes not used: 6 Abdulaziz Al-Khalosi (KAS Eupen), 17 Jassim Al Shammari (Villareal), 21 Nasser Al Nasr (Villareal), 22 Mohamed Al Bakri (Lakhwiya), 25 Salem Al Hajri (Saad).
Head coach: Felix Sanchez Bas
Referee: M. Penaloza Soto (Mexico)
Assistant referees: M. Ayala Valderrama & Hernandez Delgado (Mexico)
Fourth official: Santos Capela (Portugal)