England took a giant step towards qualifying for next year's UEFA U21 EURO with a 2-1 away win overgroup rivals Austria.
Eddie Nketiah’s ninth goal of the campaign and Ben Godfrey’s first for the team ensured Aidy Boothroyd’s men move six points clear of their hosts at the summit of Group 3.
Austria 1-2 England MU21s
2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifier
7.30pm BST, Tuesday 9 September
Keine Sorgen Arena, Ried-innkreis
England have won all six of their group matches and have four games to go, starting with next month’s clashes with Andorra and Turkey.
The Young Lions started brightly at the Keine Sorgen Arena, with striker Nketiah heading inches wide from a clipped Ryan Sessegnon cross.
Austria kept a rigid shape and frustrated the visitors for much of the half, but they also countered at speed with a last-ditch Tariq Lamptey tackle denying Patrick Schmidt from close-range.
However, England’s patience was rewarded in the 27th minute when Arsenal man Nketiah – who bagged a hat-trick in the reverse fixture – hounded and dispossessed a dawdling Dario Maresic, before sprinting clear and neatly chipping the keeper.
England held their lead to half-time and almost doubled it two minutes after the break when Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi found space and slipped a nice pass through to Sessegnon, who’s close-range shot was saved.
However, Austria’s reprieve was short-lived as a minute later Hudson-Odoi’s deep corner was stuck away at the back post by Norwich centre-back Godfrey, who made a well-timed run and slid in unopposed to score.
Austria almost responded immediately when a low cross from the right found Hannes Wolf, but his goal-bound effort was blocked by centre-back Marc Guehi.
The hosts had their tails up and did pull one back on the hour mark, as Schmidt’s lot shot took a deflection off Godfrey and found the bottom corner.
England sat back in a bid to protect their lead but the hosts almost equalised eight minutes from time when Marco Friedl sent a free-kick whistling inches past the post.
Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale also made a crucial late save, hanging on to Schmidt’s cross-cum-shot in injury time.
England: 1 Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United), 12 Tariq Lamptey (Brighton & Hove Albion), 4 Ben Godfrey (Norwich City), 15 Marc Guehi (Swansea City), 18 James Justin (Leicester City), 8 Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), 16 Oliver Skipp (Norwich City), 11 Ryan Sessegnon (Tottenham Hotspur), 7 Reiss Nelson (Arsenal), 10 Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), 9 Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal)
Substitutes: 20 Josh Dasilva (Brentford) for Sessegnon 66', 2 Max Aarons (Norwich City) for Lamptey 71', 6 Tom Davies (Everton) for Skipp 80', 14 Todd Cantwell (Norwich City) for Nelson 80', 19 Rhian Brewster (Liverpool) for Nketiah 81'
Substitutes not used: 22 Josef Bursik (Doncaster Rovers), 3 Jonathan Panzo (Dijon), 5 Lloyd Kelly (AFC Bournemouth), 21 Conor Gallagher (Chelsea)
Head coach: Aidy Boothroyd