They had to remain patient, but England’s perseverance paid off in Moscow as second-half strikes from Adam Armstrong and Patrick Roberts secured victory.
After an even opening period, Neil Dewsnip’s Under-18s stepped up a gear after the restart and took control of the game at the Arena Khimka.
From the off they retained the ball and threatened the attacking third with ruthless endeavour.
Russia 0-2 England
International U18 Match
Monday 8 June 2015
Arena Khimki, Moscow
And they got their just reward when Newcastle United forward Armstrong, skipper on the day, converted a penalty on 63 minutes before Roberts doubled the advantage in spectacular fashion moments later.
The contest began in an open fashion. Armstrong twice forced the host keeper into action, but it was not all one-way traffic as Young Lions stopper Freddie Woodman had to be alert too.
He was called into action on seven minutes when he saved low down from Nikolai Obolski’s free-kick.
Georgi Melkadze, who has featured in Spartak Moscow’s first team, threatened further moments later with a stinging strike from 25 yards. But Woodman was able to parry away his effort.
Dewsnip’s side were making things difficult for themselves as their ball retention in the opening 25 minutes failed to match the standards they had set previously throughout the campaign.
But Dael Fry and Tosin Adarabioyo were standing firm at the back to repel any Russian attack.
England needed a moment of inspiration to try and fire them into full throttle, and Armstrong almost provided it when he came close to opening the scoring just before the half hour point.
After receiving the ball on the edge of the box, the Newcastle United forward tricked and turned his way through three defenders before driving the ball towards goal. However, keeper Timur Akmurzin showed strong hands to turn the strike over his crossbar.
As the half wore on the visitors began to find rhythm, but it was Russia who almost snatched the lead in the dying seconds of the first period.
A free-kick from the left was sent deep towards the back post as Vitaliy Stezhko rose to head the ball back across goal towards the corner of the net, but Woodman managed to push the ball away to ensure it was scoreless at the break.
Neither side changed personal at the interval as the contest continued in the same vein with both sides enjoying plenty of the ball but Dewsnip’s side creating the most chances.
Liam Walsh was the first to test the keeper with a dipping drive from distance, but it would be just after the hour mark that England burst into life.
After collecting the ball from Kyle Walker-Peters on the right, Roberts sprung into action as he darted through a number of defenders and into the area.
The only way for the hosts to stop him was to bring him down illegally. Armstrong placed the ball on the spot and coolly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to break the deadlock.
Just four minutes later Roberts doubled the Young Lions' lead. He collected the ball on the right, 25 yards from goal.
The Russia defence allowed him acres of space, and the Fulham youngster looked up and delicately curled the ball inside the far top right corner.
For the remainder of the contest England were in complete control, with both centre-halves Fry and Adarabioyo refused to allow their hosts a sniff as the pair produced an impressive performance.
They had Woodman to thank late on as Sergey Serchenkov wriggled free but his toe-poke was palmed away by the keeper.
The two sides will meet again in 48 hours time for the second of their double-header.
Russia (4-2-3-1): 1 Timur Akmurzin; 2 Nikolay Mayorskiy, 4 Vitaliy Stezhko, 3 Sergei Evtushenko, 5 Dmitri Skopintsev; 13 Shamsiddin Shanbiev, 8 Danil Poluboy Arinov; 11 Ilzat Akhmetov, 14 Georgi Melkadze (C), 7 Nikolai Kipiani; 9 Nikolai Obolski.
Subs: 16 Sergey Serchenkov for Akhmetov (67), 21 Ruslan Suanov for Obolski (76)
Subs not used: 12 Ilya Sukhoruchenko, 18 Oleg Krasilnichenko, 6 Daniil Yamschikov, 15 Andrei Mironov, 17 Mutalip Alibekov
Head coach: Sergey Kiryakov
England (4-1-2-1-2): 1 Freddie Woodman (Newcastle United); 2 Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham Hotspur), 6 Dael Fry (Middlesbrough), 5 Tosin Adarabioyo (Manchester City), 3 Callum Connolly (Everton); 4 Liam Walsh (Everton); 8 Louis Reed (Sheffield United), 11 Daniel Barlaser (Newcastle United); 7 Patrick Roberts (Fulham); 9 Adam Armstrong (Newcastle United) (Captain), 10 Tammy Abraham (Chelsea).
Subs: 17 Sheyi Ojo (Liverpool) for Roberts (70), 18 Karlan Ahearne-Grant (Charlton Athletic) for Armstrong (85).
Subs not used: 13 Magnus Norman (Fulham), 12 Elliott Moore (Leicester City), 14 Max Lowe (Derby County), 15 Luke Amos (Tottenham Hotspur), 16 Kieran Dowell (Everton).
Goals: Armstrong (63), Roberts (67).
Head coach: Neil Dewsnip