A hat-trick from Layton Ndukwu and a Marcus Edwards strike saw England U17s start their European Championship qualification campaign with a comfortable win.
Leicester City striker Ndukwu helped himself to a treble as the Young Lions dominated the proceedings in Paphos, but a late red card for captain Reece Oxford will have a put a blemish on the afternoon for head coach John Peacock.
Nathan Holland, who scored twice at the St. George’s Park Tournament in August, started down the right for England, who lined-up with a lightning-quick forward four.
Cyprus 1-4 England
UEFA U17 Championship
First Qualifying Round
Saturday 25 October 2014
Kouklia Community Stadium, Paphos
Edwards, who impressed at the Nordics in July, took his position inside Holland and behind frontman Ndukwu, with Arsenal’s Chris Willock tasked with providing the threat down the left.
The visitors started in determined fashion, and their energetic opening saw them have a go at their visitors – but some over-eagerness on the part of Nikolas Matthaiou saw him given an early talking to by the referee after a foul on James Yates three minutes in.
And from the resulting free-kick Peacock’s youngsters created their first opportunity – Holland racing on to a through ball and blasting a strike from 18 yards that the goalkeeper just managed to palm over the bar.
England were very much in control, and the signs were there that their pace in attack would cause the hosts all sorts of problems – and that is exactly what happened on 13 minutes when they took the lead.
The move started with Oxford at the back. The ball was eventually fed to Willock on the wing, and he showed great skill to skip past the full-back before whipping in a cross for Ndukwu to head home at the near post.
Holland again, this time from 20 yards, had another chance and a DaSilva cross-cum-shot almost dipped under the crossbar and Will Patching also saw a turn and shot whistle just wide.
The only real chance for Cyprus came midway through the first half, when Grigoris Kastanos launched a free-kick into the area and Michalis Charalampous headed it goalwards, but Paul Woolston was alert to the danger and collected comfortably.
During the tournament at St. George’s Park back in August, Peacock asked his side to be more clinical in front of goal, and they pressed strongly for a second as half-time approached.
And it almost arrived in magical fashion as Edwards danced his way past several defenders before rounding the goalkeeper, but he was denied a brilliant individual goal as his effort was blocked on the line by the sliding Panagiotis Artymatas.
Neither side made changes at the break as the second period began with England in control again, and they duly doubled their lead just five minutes in. Edwards had the ball on the edge of the area and he threaded it through for Ndukwu who calmly slotted past the keeper for his and his side’s second.
Holland once again came close to getting his name on the scoresheet after a pass from Edwards, but his strike fizzed just wide. The Everton man was replaced by Charlie Wakefield soon after and within minutes of the Chelsea youngster’s introduction England extended their lead.
With 58 minutes on the clock, James Yates powered into the opposition half before playing Ndukwu through, and the striker cut back past a defender before finishing clinically to seal his hat-trick.
And just three minutes later the substitute got himself involved in the action, crossing from the right to Edwards, who found himself in acres of space that allowed him to control before knocking the ball into the net.
Peacock’s men were in complete control, but a late red card for Oxford put a dampener on the afternoon. The skipper was adjudged to have hauled down Charalampous when last man, and the referee gave him his marching orders before Papakonstantinou converted from the spot.
England U17s (4-2-3-1): 1 Paul Woolston (Newcastle United); 2 James Yates (Everton), 5 Reece Oxford (C; West Ham United), 6 Cameron Humphreys (Manchester City), 3 Jay DaSilva (Chelsea); 4 Tom Davies (Everton), 14 Will Patching (Manchester City); 7 Nathan Holland (Everton), 10 Marcus Edwards (Tottenham Hotspur), 11 Chris Willock (Arsenal); 16 Layton Ndukwu (Leicester City).
Substitutes: 17 Charlie Wakefield (Chelsea) for Holland (55), 8 Jacob Maddox (Chelsea) for Willock (60), 15 Danny Collinge (VFB Stuttgart) for Davies (64).
Substitutes not used: 13 Aston Oxborough (Norwich City), 9 Lukas Nmecha (Manchester City), 12 Hayden Coulson (Middlesbrough), 18 Herbie Kane (Liverpool).
Goals: Ndukwu (13, 45, 58), Edwards (61)
Booking: Humphreys (71)
Red card: Oxford (79)
Head coach: John Peacock
Cyprus (4-2-3-1): 1 Giannis Michail; 14 Symeon Kkone; 4 Panagiotis Artymatas (C); 5 Christos Kallis, 3 Kostas Pileas; 6 Andreas Neophytou, 13 Stylianos Kallenos; 11 Nikolas Matthaiou, 10 Grigoris Kastanos, 15 Marios Andreou; 9 Michalis Charalampous.
Substitutes: 15 Marios Andreou for Neophytou (53), 7 Michalis Papakonstantinou for Kallenos (53), 8 Andreas Chapeshis for Kastanos (64).
Substitutes not used: 12 Eleftherios Flouri, 2 Andreas Nikolaou, 16 Petros Psychas, 18 Leonidas Kyriakou
Goal: Papakonstantinou (78)
Bookings: Charalampous (63)
Head coach: Charalampos Pittas
Watch the highlights from Paphos