England MU21s continued their impressive start to the new U21 EURO qualifying campaign, with a 3-0 victory in Albania.
Aidy Boothroyd’s Young Lions, who moved to top spot in their group last month, cemented their place at the summit following a controlled performance in Loro Borici backed by a number of England fans en route to the senior team’s fixture across the border in Kosovo on Sunday.
First-half goals from Phil Foden and full debutant Conor Gallagher got England going, but they had to wait for the final stages before adding a third through Reiss Nelson.
The early stages of the game were far more even, with Aaron Ramsdale called into action on a couple of occasions as the hosts chased an upset.
And it took a moment of magic from Foden to break the deadlock as his set-piece expertise saw him curl a free-kick into the top right corner.
The Manchester City ace then saw a shot come back off the woodwork shortly after, as the Albanians struggled to get to grips with England’s attacking movement.
England should’ve doubled the lead soon after when they won a penalty following a handball in the box. Rhian Brewster stepped up, but saw his spot-kick bounce back off the post.
But they did find a second goal three minutes before the break, when Gallagher sealed his first start for the U21s with a goal by firing home from the edge of the area after collecting a Foden pass.
After the break, England never really looked like letting their grip of the game go by looking comfortable in possession and probing in attack.
Gallagher could’ve had a second when his stinging low shot was saved by home keeper Andrea Hoxha and then Mason Greenwood came agonisingly close in the dying stages when his effort bounced back off the inside of the post.
But the victory was completed in stoppage time when substitutes Nelson and Ryan Sessegnon combined before the striker cut inside a marker and fired home into the roof of the net from close range to complete the scoring.
Boothroyd’s squad will now head to the Netherlands, where they will play a friendly game on Tuesday evening.
England: 1 Aaron Ramsdale (AFC Bournemouth), 3 Jon Panzo (Cercle Bruges, loan from Monaco), 4 Ben Godfrey (Norwich City), 6 Tom Davies (Everton) (c), 8 Joe Willock (Arsenal), 9 Mason Greenwood (Manchester United), 10 Phil Foden (Manchester City), 12 Reece James (Chelsea), 15 Marc Guehi (Chelsea), 19 Rhian Brewster (Liverpool), 21 Conor Gallagher (Charlton Athletic, loan from Chelsea).
Substitutes: 18 James Justin (Leicester City) for Panzo 64, 7 Reiss Nelson (Arsenal) for Willock 64, 11 Ryan Sessegnon (Tottenham Hotspur) for Brewster 71, 23 Ebere Eze (QPR) for Foden 81
Substitutes not used: 2 Max Aarons (Norwich City), 16 Oliver Skipp (Tottenham Hotspur), 20 Dwight McNeil (Burnley), 22 Elleray Balcombe (Viborg, loan from Brentford), 24 Brandon Austin (Tottenham Hotspur)
Head coach: Aidy Boothroyd
Goals: Phil Foden 22, Conor Gallagher 42, Reiss Nelson 90+3