Routine victory for England U21s in Milton Keynes
England U21s 2-0 Kosovo U21s
Cole Palmer scored a brilliant individual effort to fire England 2-0 up. Rhian Brewster opened the scoring against Kosovo from the penalty spot as the Stadium MK crowd saw them cruise to victory.
The Young Lions got their Euro 2023 qualification campaign off to a winning start with a routine 2-0 win over Kosovo U21s at Stadium MK.
Rhian Brewster netted from the spot after just nine minutes before a brilliant solo-effort from Cole Palmer doubled their advantage on 20 minutes.
Never out of third gear, Lee Carsley’s men marshalled out the second half trouble free to secure their first points in the group at the first attempt, sending home the 5,781 supporters home happy.
Though there weren't many household names in Lee Carsley's first competitive matchday squad, the gulf of class and ability was plain for all to see from the opening whistle. But it was in fact Kosovo who had the better of the opening chances, with Kreshnik Krasniqi firing jsut wide before Florent Hoti sent one over the top.
While England had yet to really find their feet, they were handed a huge boost after nine minutes when Kosovo keeper Leo Besson upended Rhian Brewster, offering the referee no choice but to award a spot kick - Brewster did the business to hammer England in front.
Far from rolling over, Kosovo should have been level 10 minutes later when Mark Marleku got in on goal, but a brilliant combination of skipper Marc Guehi and keeper Josef Bursik denied the striker.
England would capitalise on the miss and double their advantage though from a moment of brilliance from Cole Palmer. Turning his man on the byline inside the penalty area, the Manchester City youngster then bent a wonderful strike past Besson to double the lead.
It could have been 3-0 before the interval too, with the impressive Noni Madueke finding space on the edge of the penalty area, only to fire over the top.
The second half didn't quite have the same spark, cut and thrust as the first for the Young Lions, who looked in second gear throughout.
Half-chances fell the way of Madueke, Brewster and Taylor Harwood-Bellis as England sought their third goal, but it was Bursik who was the busier keeper in the second period, diving well to his left to deny a decent effort from Diamant Berisha.
Referee: Kaarlo Oskari Hamalainen
England U21s: Bursik, Aarons, Guehi, Harwood-Bellis, Thomas, Gallagher, Garner, Skipp (Doyle 82), Madueke (Livramento 82), Brewster (Balogun 65), Palmer (John-Jules 72)
Subs not used: Green, Griggiths Creswell, Colwill, Ramsey
Kosovo U21s: Besson, A Hoti, Zumberi, Kurtulus, Hoxha, F Hoti (Berisha 73), Lushaku, Pajaziti (Kryeziu 62), Krasniqi (Tahiri 82), Marleku, Veliu (Zeqiri 62)
Subs not used: Gashi, Sadriu, Tusha, Sadiku, Tahiri, Pilana