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UEFA U21 Championship

  • 10 September 2012
  • • 19:00
  • • Proact Stadium, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
  • Referee: S. Vinčić
  • • Attendance: 9947
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England Under-21 1-0 Norway Under-21: Wickham strike ensures Three Lions top group ahead of play-off draw

England Under-21 1-0 Norway Under-21: Wickham strike ensures Three Lions top group ahead of play-off draw

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Sunderland forward gets the only goal of the game just before half-time at the Proact Stadium as Stuart Pearce's side end their group stage campaign with a solid victory

England secured top spot in Group 8 in their European Under-21 quailifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Norway thanks to a first-half goal from Connor Wickham.

The Three Lions endured a frustrating opening 45 minutes until the Sunderland striker pounced on a mistake in the Norwegian defence and slotted the ball into the net just before the interval.

Stuart Pearce made five changes to his team that beat Azerbaijan as Jason Lowe, Josh McEachran and Nathan Delfouneso missed out with injuries while Craig Dawson was suspended.

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Replacing them were Connor Wickham, Martyn Waghorn, Ben Marshall and Ryan Bennett, meanwhile Steele was recalled to the starting line-up after missing out last week with a bug.

England started the game well and had a good chance to take the lead in the sixth minute when Jordan Henderson teed up Martyn Waghorn just outside the area and the Leicester striker powered an effort at goal but his shot was well saved by Arild Ostbo.

Norway seemed content to hit Pearce's side on the counter and a decent move involving Harmeet Singh, Jo Inge Berget and Fredrik Ulvestad saw the striker turn his man and shoot at goal but his was tame and straight at Steele.

Tom Ince nearly gave England the lead minutes later as he attempted to capitalise on a mistake from Thomas Rogne who allowed a ball over the top to bounce behind him but the Blackpool midfielder failed to direct his effort on target as his shot trickled past the post.

The Three Lions took a deserved lead on the stroke of half-time as pressure from Henderson and Wagorn forced a mistake from the Norwegian defence and the ball fell to Wickham who calmly stroked the ball past Ostbo.

After the break England went straight on the attack and should have doubled their lead through Waghorn as he latched onto Marshall's cross at the back post but couldn't get full control of the ball and scuffed his shot straight at Ostbo.

The Three Lions excellent passing game continued as Ince and Danny Rose combined well down the left and the latter produced a good cross towards the back post where Marshall was waiting but his header across to Wickham was well cut out by Stefan Strandberg.

Norway had been quiet for most of the game as they had been unable to see much of the ball due to England's dominance of possession but Havard Nielsen came close to equalising with a shot out of nothing on the edge of the area which went just wide of the post.

Per Joar Hansen's side came close minutes later when Nielsen cut inside on his right foot and unleashed a powerful shot which hit off the underside off the bar before being hacked cleared by Caulker.

The visitors kept pressing and went close on a couple of occasions through Nielsen again and Bakenga but couldn't find a way through Pearce's side's stubborn backline resistance as the Three Lions held on to secure the win.

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