A stunning Wilfried Zaha display helped Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21s continue their Euro 2013 preparations with an authoritative 3-0 win over Romania Under-21s on Thursday night.
The Manchester United-bound forward’s first England goal, Jack Robinson’s volley and Nathan Delfouneso's late strike won it for the hosts as they made it eight wins on the trot.
Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom and Jordan Henderson made up a four-strong Liverpool contingent for the hosts, while Tom Ince and Luke Shaw both missed out through injury. Steven Caulker was also out after being promoted to the senior squad, while promising Steaua Bucharest midfielder Gabriel Iancu started for the visitors.
England had an early scare as midfielder Henri Lansbury limped off after a collision with goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu, meaning an early introduction for Nathan Delfouneso.
Zaha looked a constant threat, and he showed exactly why Manchester United paid £15 million for his services as he skipped past two players before laying off to Delfouneso, who swung a low ball in for Raheem Sterling to hit first time, but his effort was straight at Branescu.
The Liverpool winger had another chance almost straight away as he linked up with Danny Rose on the left before cutting inside and forcing a fine save from the goalkeeper at his near post.
Zaha was causing all sorts of problems for Emil Sandoi’s side, and a free kick he won on the edge of the box was drilled low by Shelvey but Juventus shot-stopper Branescu produced another excellent save to turn it around the post, before Raheem Sterling hammered a 25-yard effort just over the bar.
But the goalkeeper’s resistance was eventually broken just after half an hour as the impressive Zaha opened the scoring, picking up the ball on the edge of the area before cutting on to his right foot, skipping past several challenges before bending the ball around a helpless Branescu.
Nat Chalobah had a chance to double the lead after Branescu failed to punch a corner away, but the midfielder’s volley skipped wide of the post.
England continued to dominate the possession in the second half, and Sterling nearly doubled the lead with a stunning curling effort from the left-hand corner of the area which flew wide.
After being introduced for Rose at the break Robinson got on the scoresheet ten minutes later, meeting Shelvey’s superb left-footed cross to volley in from close range at the far post.
The cold conditions got worse as the half went on as the rain and snow started to fall, and that – coupled with multiple substitutions – slowed the game almost to walking pace. Zaha tried to liven the game up as he produced a stunning moment of magic in the box, performing a Zidane-esque pirouette before seeing a low shot blocked.
The victory was wrapped up with a few minutes left as Shelvey's low cross from a free kick skipped through several players before an unmarked Delfouneso met it at the far post to bag England's third.
Branescu produced another excellent stop right before the final whistle to stop Delfouneso's powerful header, but the damage was already done and Pearce's men enjoyed a comfortable win.