Two first-half goals secured victory for England Under-20s over Italy at AFC Fylde’s Mill Farm.
In what was an entertaining opening, Reece James’s free kick cannoned off the crossbar while the visitors enjoyed sustained spells of possession.
The Young Lions went ahead in style after 19 minutes, Edward Nketiah with a low power-driver drawing applause from the 3,817-strong crowd.
- A Men's U20s International
- Thursday 11 October
- at MIll Farm, AFC Fylde
Skipper Filippo Melegoni’s crisp drive was well held by Aaron Ramsdale.
England were awarded a penalty after some holding in the box – Joe Willock stepped up to convert with aplomb.
They came close to a third as the first half drew to a close following neat interplay between the two goalscorers and fellow frontman Elliot Embleton but the visiting backline stood firm.
Italy then won a free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the area, Melogoni only able to steer his attempt over the crossbar.
Paul Simon’s outfit began the second period strongly; the lively Nketiah embarked on a strong run but saw his shot edge past the post.
The Azzuri halved the deficit midway through the second half through Davide Frattesi’s close-range finish.
Up from left-back, Leeds United’s Tom Pearce was picked out and his shot was just wide of the intended target.
With 10 minutes remaining, England’s goal led a charmed life – Aaron Ramsdale saving on the line before skipper Lloyd Kelly scrambled clear.
They held out and now travel to the Czech Republic for Tuesday’s international.
England: 1 Aaron Ramsdale (AFC Bournemouth), 2 Reece James (Wigan Athletic, on loan from Chelsea), 3 Tom Pearce (Leeds United), 4 Sam Field (West Bromwich Albion), 5 Easah Suliman (Emmen, on loan from Aston Villa), 6 Lloyd Kelly (capt; Bristol City) (C), 7 Eberechi Eze (Queens Park Rangers), 8 Marcus Tavernier (Middlesbrough), 9 Edward Nketiah (Arsenal), 10 Joe Willock (Arsenal), 11 Elliot Embleton (Grimsby Town, on loan from Sunderland).
Substitutes: 16 Ronaldo Vieira for Willock 62, 12 Kyle Edwards for Eze 84, 14 George Hurst for Nketiah 90.
Substitutes not used: 13 Nathan Trott (West Ham United), 15 Ben Wilmot (Watford), 17 Andre Dozzell (Ipswich Town), 22 Brandon Austin (Tottenham Hotspur).
Head coach: Paul Simpson