England U20s kicked off their season in spectacular fashion with a stunning 6-0 victory against Romania in Telford.
After a frustrating first half, goals from Rolando Aarons, Josh Murphy, Lewis Baker, Kwame Thomas and a brace from Callum Robinson gave Aidy Boothroyd a near-perfect start to his reign in charge of the Young Lions.
England senior manager Roy Hodgson was among the crowd – and he would have been delighted with the attacking craft displayed by the youngsters.
England 6-0 Romania
U20 international match
Friday 5 September
New Bucks Head Stadium
After his headline-grabbing debut for Newcastle against Crystal Palace at the weekend, winger Aarons was given his chance from the off.
Fellow international newcomers Christy Pym, Matt Grimes and Josh Harrop all had to do with a place on the bench as Boothroyd began with an attacking lineup.
Joining Aarons in a four-pronged frontline were Chuba Akpom, Jordon Ibe and Robinson – and the foursome were on the front foot from the first shrill of the referee’s whistle.
However, despite plenty of possession in the visitors’ final third, it took 27 minutes before Razvan Began was called into action in the Romanian goal.
Chelsea midfielder and Young Lions captain for the season Baker curled a wicked free-kick from the left angle of the box.
It was bound for Began’s top corner but the keeper got his finger tips to it and turned it round the post and out for a corner.
England continued to push forward and as the game edged towards the halfway point it was only a matter of time before the hosts notched the opening goal.
But the Young Lions had to be patient and it was not until the second half got under way that they got their reward.
Good buildup play between Matt Targett and John Swift on the left resulted in the ball falling to Aarons in the box and, after holding off a defender, he swiveled and fired home low in off the post.
That served to open the floodgates and Christian Walton and his back four became spectators as the Young Lions went in for the kill.
Boothroyd brought Josh Murphy, Harrison Reed and Kwame Thomas into the fray and the trio added even more impetus to England’s attacking options which resulted in a five-goal spree inside 18 minutes.
And it was the first of the three substitutes, Murphy, that made an immediate impact with a world-class strike.
Picked out perfectly from 40-yards by left-back Targett, the Norwich City player let the ball drop over his shoulder before firing home a first-time volley.
Moments later, England had their third as Aarons turned provider to set up Robinson for a simple tap in.
And Aarons was at the heart of the action again as he and Robinson combined with a neat one-two, before the Newcastle man was tripped by Began inside the box.
Skipper Baker stepped up and finished confidently from the spot to notch the home side’s fourth goal before sub Thomas hit England’s fifth five minutes from time.
And Robinson netted his second of the night to crown a superb victory for Boothroyd’s men in the dying moments.
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Christian Walton (Brighton & Hove Albion);2 Isaac Hayden (Arsenal), 5 Dominic Ball (Tottenham Hotspur), 6 Shay Facey (Manchester City), 3 Matt Targett (Southampton); 4 Lewis Baker (Chelsea), 8 John Swift (Chelsea); 10 Callum Robinson (Aston Villa), 11 Rolando Aarons (Newcastle United), 7 Jordon Ibe (Derby County, on loan from Liverpool); 9 Chuba Akpom (Arsenal)
15 Harrison Reed (Southampton) for Swift, 63. 18 Kwame Thomas (Derby County) for Akpom, 63. 20 Josh Murphy (Norwich City) for Ibe. 13 Christy Pym (Exeter City) for Walton, 79. 17 Matt Grimes (Exeter City) for Aarons, 79. 16 Josh Harrop (Manchester United) for Baker, 79. 19 Lloyd Jones (Liverpool) for Facey, 79.
Substitutes not used
12 Fankaty Dabo (Chelsea), 14 Paul Digby (Barnsley), 21 Ben Pearson (Manchester United), 22 Chris Long (Everton).
Manager: Aidy Boothroyd
Goals: Aarons (54), Murphy (71), Robinson (73, 89), Baker (78 pen), Thomas (85)
Romania: (4-3-3): 1 Razvan Began; 2 Andrei Roman, 5 Radu Crisan, 6 Robert Caruta, 3 Robert Gherghe; 4 Marius Halmaghe, 7 Radu Crisan, 8 Bogdan Danciu (C); 9 Alexandru Tudorie, 11 Vlad Olteanu, 10 Andy Asandului.
17 Adrian Petricau for Roman, 79. 15 Nicusor Fota (for Danciu), 85. 16 Geroge Mares (for Tudorie), 85.
Substitutes not used
12 Razvan Negrila, 14 George Ionascu, 18 Valentin Petricau, 19 Sadi Akari
Manager: Isac Doru
Referee: Paul Tierney