England U21 vs Romania U21. Under-21 International.
Sunday 25 March 2018 00:19, UK
England U21s warmed up for Tuesday's Euro 2019 qualifier against Ukraine with a hard-fought 2-1 friendly win over Romania at Molineux.
Demarai Gray was named captain for the Cyrille Regis International with Dominic Solanke ruled out, and the Leicester winger fired the Young Lions ahead after just eight minutes.
Jake Clarke-Salter took the armband in the second half and went on to head England into a 2-0 lead (73) before substitute Valentin Costache pulled one back (79).
The friendly at Molineux was named the Cyrille Regis International, in honour of the former England striker who passed away in January. There was a minute’s applause ahead of kick-off, while wreaths were laid by the FA and representatives from Aston Villa, Coventry City, West Brom and Wolves – the four Midlands clubs Regis played for.
A superb block from Kyle Walker-Peters prevented a late Romania equaliser as England survived to stretch their unbeaten run to six games.
Aidy Boothroyd's side shot out the blocks, with Kieran Dowell sending a free-kick narrowly over before Ainsley Maitland-Niles forced Ionut Radu into making a low save.
England's fast start was rewarded after eight minutes when Gray's strike deflected in off Alex Pascanu after Ademola Lookman's smart first-time pass.
England U21: Henderson (6), Alexander-Arnold (8), Tomori (7), Clarke-Salter (8), Walker-Peters (8), Ejaria (8), Dowell (7), Maitland-Niles (8), Gray (7), Lookman (8), Abraham (7)
Subs: Kenny (6), Onomah (6), Maddison (n/a), Calvert-Lewin (n/a)
Romania U21: I.Radu (7), A.Radu (6), Pascanu (6), Ghita (6), Coman (7), Oaida (6), Ivan (7), Hagi (7), Dobre (7), Nedelcu (6), Butean (6)
Subs: Ciobanu (6), Costache (7), Olteanu (6), Petre (6), Dumitrescu (n/a), Capusa (n/a)
Man of the match: Jake Clarke-Salter
Romania responded well to the early setback, and after Florinel Coman flashed an effort over, Andrei Ivan's low effort was deflected onto the post after the slightest and most vital of touches from Clarke-Salter.
After the break, Tammy Abraham saw claims for a penalty waved away after Alex Pascanu appeared to pull the forward down, while down the other end Walker-Peters slid in to prevent Mihai-Alexandru Dobre from levelling.
Abraham then saw a looping header bounce off the bar, but England soon had their second when Clarke-Salter rose highest to meet Trent Alexander-Arnold's corner, which came as a result of Lookman striking the post.
Tammy Abraham led the line with Dominic Solanke out, with Aidy Boothroyd handed debuts to Dean Henderson, Jake Clarke-Salter and Ovie Ejaria.
Romania ensured for a nervy finish when Costache pounced on an error from Dean Henderson, and after substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin missed a couple of attempts, the England goalkeeper went on to make amends in the dying minutes to parry away Coman's free-kick.
Walker-Peters then blocked Costache's strike from eight yards out to hand England victory, while it was Romania's first defeat in exactly a year.
A vital block in the first half and an all-important header in the second sees Clarke-Salter get the nod, though in truth a number of players were worthy of the award.
Lookman and Dowell impressed going forward, with Lookman, in particular, a danger in the No 10 role, while Alexander-Arnold's persistence with crosses paid off when his corner was met by Clarke-Salter.
Meanwhile, Ovie Ejaria and Maitland-Niles both looked comfortable in midfield for the Young Lions - with a passing accuracy of 96.6% and 96.4% respectively.
England U21s are in Euro 2019 qualifying action against Ukraine at Bramall Lane on Tuesday, with kick-off at 6pm. The Young Lions currently top Group 4 and are five points clear of Ukraine going into the encounter.