England’s Under-20 side continued their preparations for the FIFA U20 World Championships in Egypt this autumn with a fine 2-0 win over their Italian counterparts at QPR’s Loftus Road.
Noel Blake’s side were without Football League Young Player of the Year Fabian Delph of Leeds United due to injury, but didn’t struggle to create chances in his absence.
The Italians started strongly, with Sampdoria’s Marco Marilungo pouncing to smash a misguided James Tomkins header towards goal, only to see his effort expertly tipped over by David Button, currently on loan at Luton Town from Spurs.
However England were soon in front. Chelsea’s Scott Sinclair, currently on loan at Birmingham City, produced a marvellous piece of skill by the corner flag, beating his man with a drag back before earning a corner, which was expertly floated into the danger-zone by Aston Villa’s Marc Albrighton and headed past the stranded Carlo Pinsoglio by Albrighton’s Villa team-mate Ciaran Clark.
Sinclair continued to look lively down the left, wowing the 6,000-plus crowd with a series of step-overs and darting runs, while the strike partnership of Manchester City’s Daniel Sturridge and Freddie Sears of West Ham were finding space to exploit when the ball was presented to them.
England were two ahead on the half hour when West Ham’s James Tomkins carried the ball into the Italian half before laying the ball to Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs, who’s blocked shot eventually landed at the feet of Sturridge to expertly guide the ball over the shoulder of the approaching keeper.
Italy came out of the traps the quicker again after the break, with Matteo Gentili heading into the ground and over the bar.
While Claudio Della Penna of Pistoiese chested the ball down on the edge of the box before volleying towards goal and bringing a decent save out of Manchester United keeper Ben Amos, who had replaced Button at the break.
A series of substitutions took their toll on the flow of the match in the final half an hour and as a result decent openings were few and far between.
Speaking after the game, England U20 coach Noel Blake told FourFourTwo.com: “We thought we played well, both in possession and out of possession.
"The early stages were when the game was won. They started brightly and pressed us early which is what we expected. David [Button] made a fabulous save and from then on we were able to take control of the game.”