Unconvincing Under-21s battle with ten men for opening victory
By Lee Thrions
Monday 15 Jun 2009 19:54:00
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A less than impressive performance from the England Under-21s was still enough for Stuart Pearce’s youngsters to claim the full three points and win the first game of the European Championships.

 

A deflected Lee Cattermole goal put England ahead early on, but when Michael Mancienne got himself sent off for felling Berat Sadek in the 31st minute, the Finns’ former Southampton trainee Tim Sparv put the Scandinavian side level and a man to the good. Article continues below

 

 

With an hour still to play, England had to battle the disadvantage of being a man down to win.

 

“I think we showed courage,” said Pearce, after watching Micah Richards head a corner to give his side a somewhat fortunate 2-1 victory.

 

“Did we play well enough to trouble the tournament? No. But they have lots of character and we have to couple that with our ability.”

 

The Young Lions will have to be much better when facing Spain on Thursday, and will also have to do so without the suspended Mancienne.

 

Walcott’s performance was underwhelming, but you can be sure that Psycho will whip them all up into better shape for the Spanish. And at least we can take consolation from the fact that we did win, while playing badly.

 

So can we beat the Spaniards too?

 

England team: Hart; Cranie, Richards (Tomkins 89), Mancienne, Gibbs; Muamba, Cattermole, Noble (c); Milner, Walcott (Campbell 46), Agbonlahor (Rodwell 85).

 

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