Anthony Gordon’s debut double earned ruthless England Under-21s a crucial win over the Czech Republic.
The Everton winger’s early brace put the Young Lions on course for a 3-1 win in their Euro 2023 qualifier in Burnley.
Folarin Balogun also netted his first under-21s goal as the Young Lions threatened to run riot.
Adam Karabec’s penalty tempered their momentum but Lee Carsley’s side moved second, two points behind the visitors in Group G, with a game in hand ahead of March’s matches with Andorra and Albania.
Pre-match, confident Gordon declared he wanted to be Everton’s best player and he announced himself at Turf Moor inside 11 minutes.
The winger put Tomas Cvancara under pressure to retrieve the ball with Balogun and Conor Gallagher working it to Cole Palmer.
His pass and movement opened up the space for Gordon to cut inside and Martin Vitik stuck out a leg to divert his shot past a stranded Matej Kovar.
While Gordon may struggle to claim the first, his second seven minutes later was clear cut.
An awful pass from Adam Gabriel gifted the ball to Balogun and he found Gallagher clear on the right.
The midfielder’s shot was saved by Manchester United’s Kovar but he only pushed it into the path of Gordon for an easy tap-in.
The visitors had not conceded a goal in their opening four group games but found themselves completely outplayed with England growing in confidence and Max Aarons and Jacob Ramsey shot over.
Balogun had penalty claims rejected but grabbed his first under-21s goal after 30 minutes.
Again, the Czech Republic were caught in possession with the impressive Ramsey robbing Cvancara and he slipped in Balogun to find the bottom corner.
A smart Kovar save denied Balogun a quickfire second with the Czech Republic in disarray, yet they pulled a goal back after their first meaningful attack of the game.
Luke Thomas tripped Karabec in the area and the midfielder dispatched the penalty five minutes before the break.
Balogun should have quickly restored England’s three-goal lead, only to miscue Gordon’s cross with the goal gaping, but the hosts continued to create openings.
Gordon, Palmer and Ramsey all went close to a fourth early in the second half before they slowly began to manage the game, learning from losing a 2-0 lead to draw in Slovenia last month, to comfortably hold on for victory.
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