Gareth Southgate's men strolled to a victory that takes them two points clear at the top of Group 1, with Patrick O'Shaughnessy sent off for the visitors after the breakEngland Under-21s secured a convincing 3-0 victory against Finland Under-21s at stadium:mk on Thursday night.
First-half goals from Michael Keane and Saido Berahino gave the Young Lions a 2-0 lead at the break, before Patrick O'Shaughnessy was sent off for the visitors in the second half and Berahino added a third late on.
The result extends England’s lead at the top of Group 1 of the European Championship, with Wales two points behind having played a game more.
Before the match, Gareth Southgate had spoken of the need for England to take control of their group by taking all three points. His team selection echoed those sentiments as Wilfried Zaha, Raheem Sterling, Berahino, Ravel Morrison and James Ward-Prowse all made the starting line-up.
And the Young Lions wasted no time in repaying their manager’s faith, Zaha in particular showing his mastery on the ball. Nathaniel Chalobah broke free in the box as a result but was brought down by a strong tackle, with a barrage of penalty appeals following from the crowd.
Unsurprisingly, Zaha was at the centre of the game’s next big moment as the Manchester United winger burst into the penalty area before being brought down. The stadium erupted in protest once more but the referee again waved the appeals away.
The next time the stadium erupted, though, England had the lead - and they had Keane to thank after a well-timed run into the box and finely-taken header. The defender had timed his advance to perfection and got on the end of an in-swinging free kick. Ward-Prowse deserved credit, however, after producing another one of his trademark set-piece deliveries from the left to set Keane up.
And it was another Southampton player who assisted England’s next goal, as Luke Shaw broke forward - again down the left-hand side - and played a cross-cum-shot into the area. Jesse Joronen was equal to the effort but not to Berahino’s rebound shot and the West Brom man duly doubled England’s lead.
Berahino’s strike did little for the visitors’ spirits and Southgate’s men coasted into the break without any further resistance.
After half-time, Finland offered even less, with the likes of Zaha, Sterling and Morrison eager to capitalise. It was Ward-Prowse that came closest to converting a third for England, however, as he forced Joronen into a fingertip save with a powerful strike from the edge of the area.
Tom Ince was introduced on the hour-mark and he was next to threaten, though he slipped just yards away from goal and Hoshtagh Yaghoubi was able to make a goal-line clearance.
But Finland’s night got even worse on 69 minutes when O’Shaughnessy received his marching orders for a poor challenge on Shaw in the middle of the park. The Finn had already been booked and the referee showed no hesitation in giving him the red card.
If the visitors’ spirits were dwindling, they were now permanently broken - and Berahino reaped the rewards as he added a late third.