England U21 2-0 Kosovo U21: New boss Lee Carsley enjoys dream start as early strikes by Rhian Brewster and Cole Palmer set Young Lions on way to victory in opening Euro 2023 qualifier
- Carsley’s reign got off to a winning start with victory at Stadium MK on Tuesday
- Brewster opened the scoring from the penalty spot after he had been fouled
- Manchester City’s Palmer then added a second with a classy solo effort
Noni Madueke sat at St George’s Park last week proclaiming that while this is an exceptionally talented England squad, it is one that will probably fly under the radar.
That not all of the names in Lee Carsley’s first Under-21 squad are overly recognisable to the public.
What Madueke, the exciting PSV Eindhoven winger, might not have accounted for was one of Carsley’s relative unknowns Cruyff turning his way to a magnificent debut goal with the sort of impish cheek that draws genuine gasps.
England U21 striker Rhian Brewster opened the scoring in the 10th minute on Tuesday night
England (4-2-3-1): Bursik 6.5; Aarons 7.5, Guehi 7, Harwood-Bellis 7, Thomas 6.5; Skipp 7 (Doyle 82), Garner 6.5; Madueke 7.5 (Livramento 83), Gallagher 7.5, Palmer 8 (John-Jules 72, 6); Brewster 7 (Balogun 65, 6)
Subs not used: Green, Griffiths, Cresswell, Colwill, A Ramsey
The young midfielder worth remembering in this case is Cole Palmer, a product of Manchester City’s academy whose reputation is soaring to such a degree that Pep Guardiola absolutely insisted he would not go out on loan this season.
The last one Guardiola made this much fuss about was Phil Foden. And that worked out fairly well.
Palmer’s goal – stopping his marker dead, sending him packing with one change in direction and eventually fizzing in from an impossible angle – came 26 minutes into the new Carsley era. As announcements go, Palmer’s was not a bad one at all.
England were already one up by that point, Rhian Brewster’s early penalty settling nerves of a team including a fair few who endured the ignominy of a European Championship group stage exit under Aidy Boothroyd in March.
There cannot be an awful lot to glean from a home victory in qualifying given you have to travel back a decade – 46 matches – for an England defeat. They do not lose these games and this was no different.
Brewster scored from the spot after the Sheffield United striker had been fouled by the keeper
Kosovo arrived with the potential to frustrate but were dealt with professionally, particularly by captain Marc Guehi and authoritative partner Taylor Harwood-Bellis when countering.
Yet it was a performance that will encourage, an obvious defined pattern to their play with less general reliance on individuals. That will ease the pressure on Brewster, whose first Under-21 goal came on his 13th appearance.
The penalty, manufactured by an incisive Max Aarons pass from right back, was struck confidently and will help the Sheffield United striker who has found hitting the net a struggle since leaving Liverpool. Perhaps time with Carsley’s Young Lions will benefit his club form.
Debutant Cole Palmer doubled their advantage with a classy solo effort in the 26th minute
The signs of what Carsley wants to achieve with this group of players was evident all evening – and the trust in those who are yet to make their mark at club level is an indication of the way selection could be headed.
He has previously worked with Palmer at City and substitute Folarin Balogun with England’s lower age groups.
Despite their fleeting appearances for City and Arsenal, both are considered up there with the best on offer and therefore seen as players to nurture over the course of this Euros campaign.