2-1 victory at Carrow Road pivotal as qualification to is ensured
England U21s secured their qualification to the European Championships in 2011 with a disciplined and professional performance that saw them earn a 0-0 draw in the second leg of their qualification match against Romania, a result that saw them progress 2-1 on aggregate.
Stuart Pearce was forced into just the one change from the team that had gained the slightest of advantages at Carrow Road on Friday night, with Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge replacing man of the moment, Jack Wilshere, who was included in Fabio Capello’s senior squad for the European Championship qualifier with Montenegro on Tuesday night.
The Romanian's came out of the traps flying and demonstrated their attacking intent within the first minute when Gabriel Torje struck from outside the area, forcing a fine save from keeper Frank Fielding.
It was an immediate sign of things to come as Romania continued to pour forward and rather worryingly began to exploit gaps in the English defence. Despite a frantic opening from the home team England avoided losing the early goal, which would have destroyed their game plan, and finally began to settle down in front of a capacity crowd of just 6,000.
The pace of Sturridge was a constant threat to Romania and the Chelsea striker twice broke clear of the home defence and saw two right-footed shots saved by Lung in the Romanian goal.
Having soaked up the early pressure, England slowly began to control proceedings and produced a solid performance which seemed to frustrate their opponents, and they could and possibly should have clinched that all important away goal when centre back Phil Jones glanced a header wide of the Romanian goal.
Danger-man and playmaker Gabriel Torje then saw a swerving free kick brilliantly tipped past the post by Fielding, as Pearce’s side were reminded of the dangers of giving away unnecessary free kicks in dangerous areas.
Torje, who has been dubbed the new Lionel Messi in his homeland, then saw another shot from outside the box saved yet again by his nemesis Fielding, as England closed out the half with a satisfactory clean sheet.
The second half was nervy, with Pearce’s side well aware that just a single goal would see them go crashing out of the competition as a result of the away goals ruling.
Despite this, England’s fantastically disciplined set up saw the Romanian's produce less of a threat in the second half, with just some hopeful long range shots troubling Fielding in the visiting goal.
England’s sheer pace up front kept the Romanian's on the back foot as the likes of Welbeck, Sturridge and Rose continued to carry the ball on the counter attack, and on a number of occasions nearly found promising positions.
However, the away goal never materialised, and the expected nail-biting climax came to life when the four added minutes of stoppage time were introduced.
This saw the Romanian's abandon their crisp passing style and lump balls into the England box, as time began to run out for this skilful Romanian side.
Thankfully the likes of Jones, Chris Smalling and Michael Mancienne were up to the aerial challenge as Stuart Pearce led the youngsters to their third successive European Championships.Romania lineup: Lung, Rapa, Papp, Barboianu, Gaman, Gardos, Hora, Bicfalvi, Alexe, Torje, Sburlea.
England lineup: Fielding, Mancienne, Smalling, Jones, Bertrand, Rose, Muamba, Cleverley, Henderson, Welbeck, Sturridge.
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