A first half double from Blackpool’s Tom Ince helped England Under-21s stroll to a convincing 4-0 victory over Sweden Under-21s as they warmed up in perfect style for this summer’s European Championships.
Ince got his name on the scoresheet twice in the opening 45 minute, his first a tap in following a sweeping England move and his second after he reacted quickly to fire home the rebound after Josh McEachran’s penalty was saved. In between Ince’s goals Jonjo Shelvey got his name on the scoresheet with a simple back post tap in after excellent work by Adam Smith down the England right. And substitute Connor Wickham continued his fine form for Stuart Pearce’s side with a late fourth goal after an excellent cross from Henri Lansbury.
England started the brighter of the two sides and looked particularly dangerous down both wings with the pace of Benik Afobe and Ince causing the Swedes all kinds of problems, the added threat of Wilfried Zaha down the middle meant England’s front three posed plenty of headaches for their opponents.
Three minutes before the opening goal England should have taken the lead but captain Jordan Henderson missed a great opportunity fashioned by his Liverpool team mate Shelvey. England took a short corner on the right hand side and Shelvey found some room to deliver a left footed cross onto the head of Henderson but the midfielder header wide from 12 yards.
Henderson’s miss was soon forgotten as the home side opened the scoring through Ince after a flowing move enabled them to sweep past the Swedish defence. A superb cross field ball from Shelvey found Smith, the Tottenham youngster then delivered a pinpoint low cross out of the reach of the Swedish defender but perfect for Ince who slid in to poke past Andreas Linde.
With half an hour played England doubled their lead through Shelvey, the midfielder making up for a dreadful miss 12 minutes earlier in front of an open goal. Smith again caused problems down the right hand side, his low cross was aimed at Ince but it deflected off a Swedish defender and looped to the back post and Shelvey made no mistake to fire into the empty net at the back post.
The home side’s lead was extended further with four minutes before the break as Filip Helander brought down Ince inside the penalty area for a penalty. McEachran stepped up to take the kick but his left foot effort was week and easily saved by Linde but the loose ball rolled to Ince who blasted under the keeper.
Ince had a great chance after the break grab his hat-trick on the hour, Wickham wriggled free on the right side of the penalty area and fired a low cross into the six yard box which a sliding Ince met but Swedish substitute goalkeeper August Stromberg saved well.
Pearce’s side continued to dominate and with 13 minutes remaining Wickham added a fourth goal to confirm the comfortable win. Lansbury fired a deep cross to the back post and the substitute rose above his marker to head past Stromberg.