England Under-17s got off to a winning start in their European Championship Elite Qualifying Round as they defeated Norway 3-1 at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium on Saturday.
Having taken an early lead through Daniel Wright, John Peacock’s side were pegged back, but a strong second-half showing deservedly saw them take all three points after strikes from Danny Collinge and Layton Ndukwu.
The result leaves them sitting top of the group for the time being, with Slovenia and Romania going head-to-head later this evening in the group’s other opening clash.
England 3-1 Norway
European U17 Championship
Elite Qualifying Round
Saturday 21 March
Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion FC
The Young Lions got off to a dream start as they raced into an early lead.
Nathan Holland ran past three defenders down the right, skipping round the outside of the full-back to meet his own ball and cross from the byline. Keeper Kjetil Haug managed to palm the cross away, but Wright was on hand to smash home the loose ball from six yards – but the hosts advantage would not last long.
As the clock reached eleven minutes, James Yates was caught in possession inside his own half as Andreas Helmersen stole the ball and peeled away down the left, and his low centre was tucked away by striker Risa Birk from close range.
It was a fairly even encounter in the first half, with neither side able to take control of possession, but England almost regained the lead.
Ndukwu’s left-sided cross deflected off a defender - only to skim off the crossbar and go behind for a corner.
Norway were posing a threat, too, especially through Helmersen, and they threatened on the counterattack several times, but it was Peacock’s men that were coming closest.
Ndukwu was once again denied by the crossbar after an effort from the left side of the box before Chris Willock embarked on a marauding run at the defence, pulling the trigger from ten yards but he was denied by a fantastic save from Haug.
In the dying seconds of the half Ike Ugbo latched on to a through ball and found himself clean through, but once again the Norway shotstopper stood up well to save his side as the teams went in level at the break.
Midfielder Tom Davies was having a fine game, spraying the ball around like a quarter-back, launching England’s attack on several occasions. He was linking up well with his Everton team-mate Holland on the right, but their second goal was to arrive from a set piece.
A corner was swung towards the penalty spot from the right, and captain Reece Oxford leapt highest to nod the ball goalwards. The defence failed to deal with it as Ike Ugbo chested it down to Collinge six yards out, and the Stuttgart centre back spun to fire home on 57 minutes.
Five minutes later and the Young Lions were rewarded for their endeavour once more as Ndukwu got the goal his efforts deserved.
The left winger collected possession out wide, danced his way into the box towards the byline before stroking home through the keeper's legs from a tight angle to make it 3-1 and secure the points for England.
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Paul Woolston (Newcastle United); 2 James Yates (Everton), 5 Reece Oxford (C; West Ham United), 6 Danny Collinge (Stuttgart), 3 Tayo Edun (Fulham); 4 Tom Davies (Everton), 8 Daniel Wright (Sunderland); 7 Nathan Holland (Everton), 10 Chris Willock (Arsenal), 11 Layton Ndukwu (Leicester City); 9 Ike Ugbo (Chelsea).
Substitutes: 16 Lukas Nmecha (Manchester City)for Ugbo 68, 17 Marcus Edwards (Tottenham Hotspur) for Willock 72, 18 Kazaiah Sterling (Tottenham Hotspur) for Holland 77.
Substitutes not used: 13 Will Huffer (Leeds United), 12 Jay DaSilva (Chelsea), 14 Will Patching (Manchester City), 15 Easah Suliman (Aston Villa).
Goals: Wright 3, Collinge 57, Ndukwu 62
Head coach: John Peacock
Norway (4-4-2): 1 Kjetil Haug; 3 Matushan Sandrakumar, 4 Joakim Barstad, 16 Torde Salte 5 Henrik Bredeli, 21 Mads Sande; 8 Markus Stensby, 14 Jonas Fjellberg, 10 John Hou Saeter (C); 11 Andreas Helmersen, 9 Risa Birk.
Substitutes: 15 Magnus Retsuis Grodem for Fjellberg 56, 20 Rafik Zeknini for Birk 76.
Substitutes not used: 12 Marius Halvosen, 2 Adam Choudary, 6 Thomas Torgersen, 7 Emil Hansson, 17 Henrik Carlyle.
Goals: Birk 11
Bookings: Salte 80
Head coach: Erland Johnsen