ENGLAND U21 3, CZECH REPUBLIC U21 1
As international debuts go, it would be hard to surpass Everton’s Anthony Gordon for England in their European Under-21 Championship qualifier against the Czech Republic.
The 20-year-old attacking midfielder, only called up because of injuries and unavailability of players, scored two goals in the opening 11 minutes before a crowd of 6,507 at Turf Moor as England went top of Group G as they ended the Czech’s 100 per cent record.
It was a rampant display from England who established a three-goal lead inside half an hour and could easily have hit six in a hugely impressive opening period with the only blemish a penalty conceded late on.
The second half failed to match the richly entertaining first 45 minutes, but the job had effectively been done in the opening period.
England, who were without Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe who had been promoted to the senior squad and the suspended Rhian Brewster, created 20 goal attempts to the Czech’s eight with seven on target to the visitors’ one which was their goal.
And it was a perfect riposte to last month’s disappointing qualifiers when England surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 in Slovenia and then scraped a 1-0 win in Andorra.Embed from Getty Images
It delighted manager Lee Carsley who said: “I was under no illusions it would not be easy as they were unbeaten and had not conceded a goal.
“They are a good team, and we should be proud of that performance.”
Carsley was happy how his side began on the front foot, explaining: “The way we started the game, we showed our intent and created exciting situations.
“The players got in very good positions and created chances.”
Carsley praised Gordon for taking his Everton form on to the international stage.
He said: “It is always nice to make your debut for the U21s, but it brings a lot of pressure and expectation.
“He was outstanding and brought his Everton form. He was outstanding attacking but out of possession he had taken on board what we had been telling him.”
England, who had Manchester City pair Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Cole Palmer in their starting line-up, were ahead inside four minutes when Gordon cut in from the left and saw his shot take a wicked deflection low past Manchester United goalkeeper Matej Kovar.
Gordon was quickly on target again after Crystal Palace loanee Conor Gallagher’s shot was parried by Kovar and he swept in the rebound at the far post.
England were irresistible going forward as Gallagher and Palmer had further chances and they ought to have been awarded a penalty when Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun was wrestled to the ground.
The third goal came from Jacob Ramsey who released Balogun and he found the net with a low drive on his first start for the U21s.
Balogun ought to have had two more goals in the opening half as he was denied by a super stop from Kovar and then missed a sitter in front of goal after being set up by Gordon’s trickery on the left.
The only blot was the 39th minute penalty England conceded after a trip by Tottenham’s Oliver Skipp on Sparta Prague’s Adam Karabec who scored from the spot to hand the Czech’s a lifeline.
Gordon had a chance to complete a hat-trick early in the second half when he cut in from the left and drew an important save from Kovar.
England remained in complete control as Palmer and Ramsey had openings with the only criticism they had only scored three goals.
Palmer limped off in the 73rd minute with a tight hamstring as he was replaced by ex-Manchester United player Angel Gomes, England’s first change.
That was soon followed by Balogun making way for Wolves’ Morgan Gibbs-White while in the last minute Charlie Cresswell came on for Gallagher as England comfortably saw out the game.