England have topped their group at the U17 World Cup after Danny Loader’s second-half double helped England to a 4-0 win over Iraq in Kolkata.
The Young Lions started brightly and a lovely attacking move saw Angel Gomes break the deadlock early in the first half.
Iraq fought back but in the second period it was all England, with Emile Smith-Rowe firing home to double the advantage.
- FIFA U17 World Cup
- Saturday 14 October
- Kolkata, India
- Live on Eurosport
The match kicked off in front of a large crowd in Kolkata and the first real chance fell to centre-half Joel Latibeaudiere, who headed just over from an in-swinging Nya Kirby cross.
The Young Lions looked in the mood from the get-go and Lewis Gibson was the next to send a warning with his storming run down the left.
England didn’t have to wait long for the opener, with Steven Sessegnon playing a neat reverse pass to Kirby, who slid the ball across the six-yard-box for Gomes to prod home at the far post on 11 minutes.
After Gomes’ goal, Conor Gallagher took control of the game, building play from the centre of the pitch - and when Smith-Rowe was taken out in the area, Jadon Sancho had the chance to extend the lead from the spot.
The Borussia Dortmund winger’s shot was well saved by Ali Ibadi though, and minutes later the keeper was at it again, denying Smith-Rowe in a one-on-one opportunity.
Just past the half-hour mark Ali Kareem fired wide of the post, then saw his low shot from inside the box well saved by Billy Crellin.
Sancho responded for England, displaying his pace and trickery before shooting into the side-netting, with Latibeaudiere doing well at the other end to block Ali Kareem’s effort.
After the break, Iraq’s star man Mohammad Dawood was introduced to the action, and had a chance for his fourth goal of the tournament with a volleyed effort from the edge of the box.
But on 57 minutes England strengthened their hand with an excellent goal, Smith-Rowe playing a neat one-two with Gomes before nudging the ball past Ibadi in the Iraq goal.
And two minutes later two became three for the Young Lions, with Sessegnon going on a brilliant run before feeding Loader who rounded the keeper to score.
The same players then combined again in the 71st minute, with Iraq’s defence clearing a free-kick to Sessegnon, who slipped in Loader for his second of the night.
The Iraqi side have played well in this tournament, drawing with Mexico and beating Chile 3-0, but they couldn’t get to grips with England’s attackers in the second half and there could’ve been more goals.
Substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi had two excellent late chances, first hitting the post when through on goal and then firing just past the far post.
The results means England will remain in Kolkata for their game in the last 16, when they will face Japan on Tuesday (3.30pm BST kick-off)
Follow the Young Lion's journey here.
England (4-2-3-1): 21 Billy Crellin (Fleetwood Town); 18 Steven Sessegnon (Fulham), 15 Joel Latibeaudiere (Manchester City) (c), 5 Marc Guehi (Chelsea), 3 Lewis Gibson (Everton); 12 Nya Kirby (Crystal Palace), 20 Conor Gallagher (Chelsea); 17 Emile Smith-Rowe (Arsenal), 10 Angel Gomes (Manchester United), 11 Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund); 16 Danny Loader (Reading)
Substitutes: 19 Morgan Gibbs-White (Wolverhampton Wanderers) for Kirby 60, 14 Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea) for Gomes 67, 7 Phil Foden (Manchester City) for Guehi 72
Substitutes not used: 1 Curtis Anderson (Manchester City), 13 Joe Bursik (Stoke City), 4 George McEachran (Chelsea), 6 Jonathan Panzo (Chelsea), 8 Tashan Oakley-Boothe (Tottenham Hotspur), 9 Rhian Brewster (Liverpool), 2 Timothy Eyoma (Tottenham Hotspur)
Head coach: Steve Cooper
Goals: Gomes 11, Smith-Rowe 57, Loader 59 71
Cautions: Daniel Loader 53, Conor Gallagher 83