After a tense first half, the Tottenham Hotspur youngster was introduced into the action at the break by head coach John Peacock, and he repaid his manager’s faith with the winner minutes later.
Italy v England
UEFA European U17 Championship
Thursday 7 May 2015
Lazur, Burgas, Bulgaria
The result leaves the Young Lions top of Group D after the opening matches, as Republic of Ireland and Holland could only battle to a goalless draw earlier in the afternoon.
The opening exchanges were a fairly tense affair as both sides struggled to get equipped with the rainy conditions in Burgas.
Attacks from both sides were often cut short as passes were skidding out of play, although England were the first to threaten – both Herbie Kane and Chrissy Willock pulling the trigger from distance but seeing the ball end up at similar heights over the crossbar.
There was a scare for England as impressive skipper Reece Oxford landed heavily after going up for a header just before the quarter of an hour mark, and the West Ham defender stayed grounded for several minutes before he was able to making his way back onto the pitch.
And as the clock reached the midway point of the half, the Young Lions began to get to grips with the conditions as they started to build up a bit of pressure.
Arsenal striker Stephy Mavididi, making his international debut, showed why Peacock placed his trust in him as he impressively twisted and turned with the ball on the edge of the area, but unfortunately he was narrowly off target.
Momentum was building, and Chelsea left-back Jay DaSilva showed a nice turn of pace to burst past Alessandro Mattioli, and all the Italian centre-half could do was haul him down and he entered the referee’s notebook.
Nathan Holland tried his luck from the resulting free-kick, but his effort was tipped over by Gianluigi Donnarumma as it remained goalless at the break.
Peacock introduced Edwards at the interval, and it did not take long for the Spurs attacker to make an impact.
Seven minutes after the restart, he found himself in the right place at the right time to calmly slot home the winner after Kane’s thunderous shot cannoned back off the post and Mavididi’s rebounded effort was deflected into Edwards' path.
It could have been two goals within a minute too, but Donnarumma did well to stop Holland’s driven effort.
The Italians were rarely troubling England, although Simone Lo Faso went close with a low strike from the corner of the box.
Ike Ugbo, off the bench for Mavididi, fired into the side-netting late on as England looked to double their lead, but there remained one goal in it as we reached stoppage time.
A corner was collected by Newcastle stopper Paul Woolston in the dying stages and hearts were in mouths with the final kick of the match, as Patrick Cutrone fired inches wide of the post.
But that would have been undeserved as Peacock’s side were more than worthy of the three points as they now turn their attentions to facing Holland in their next match on Sunday.
Italy (4-4-2): 1 Gianluigi Donnarumma; 2 Guiseppe Scalera, 4 Alessandro Mattioli, 6 Andres Llamas (C), 3 Federico Giraudo; 14 Alessandro Eleuteri , 11 Mattia El Hilali, 10 Manuel Locatelli, 13 Luca Matarese; 18 Simone Mazzocchi, 16 Patrick Cutrone
Substitutes: 7 Luca Coccolo for Matarese 46, 15 Simone Lo Faso for Eleuteri 54, 8 Edoardo Degl’Innocenti for El Hilali 71.
Substitutes not used: 12 Tommaso Cucchietti, 5 Andrea Malberti, 9 Filippo Melegoni,
Bookings: Mattioli 36; Locatelli 41; El Hilali 68
Head coach: Bruno Tedino
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Paul Woolston (Newcastle United); 2 James Yates (Everton), 5 Reece Oxford (c) (West Ham), 6 Danny Collinge (Stuttgart), 3 Jay DaSilva (Chelsea); 18 Herbie Kane (Liverpool), 4 Tom Davies (Everton); 7 Nathan Holland (Everton), 11 Chrissy Willock (Arsenal), 17 Layton Ndukwu (Leicester City); 16 Stephy Mavididi (Arsenal)
Substitutes: 10 Marcus Edwards (Tottenham) for Layton Ndukwu (40), 9 Ike Ugbo (Chelsea) for Mavididi (64), 14 Trent Arnold (Liverpool) for Davies (74)
Substitutes not used: 13 Will Huffer (Leeds United), 8 Daniel Wright (Sunderland), 12 Tayo Edun, 15 Easah Suliman
Bookings: Davies 32, Yates 53
Goals: Edwards 47
Head coach: John Peacock