October 30, 2020

England Under-21s 2 Turkey 1: Arsenal ace Nketiah breaks Shearer’s goals record as Young Lions qualify for Euro 2021

England Under-21s 2 Turkey 1: Arsenal ace Nketiah breaks Shearer’s goals record as Young Lions qualify for Euro 2021

THE good news is they got the job done.

And Eddie Nketiah can congratulate himself on eclipsing Alan Shearer as the most prolific scorer in England Under-21 history with his 14th strike to kill this game off.

Eddie Nketiah breaks Alan Shearer's goal record

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Eddie Nketiah breaks Alan Shearer’s goal recordCredit: Reuters
Eddie Nketiah kept his cool to fire himself into the history books

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Eddie Nketiah kept his cool to fire himself into the history booksCredit: Getty Images – Getty

But none of England’s potential Euro opponents will be quaking in their boots after what was a stumbling performance.

Aidy Boothroyd’s side knew that a win would seal qualification to next year’s tournament, which will be split over a week in March and a week in June due to Covid-19.

They did it, just about, thanks to a flukey own goal in the first half, Aaron Ramsdale’s penalty save in the second and Nketiah’s late poacher’s finish.

The Arsenal forward missed the chance to break Shearer’s record moments before when he hit the post from the penalty spot – while Halil Dervisoglu grabbed one back in injury time.

The win did not mask what was a sloppy performance from Boothroyd’s side though, six days after a humbling draw in Andorra which had ruined their perfect qualifying record.

Perhaps it was fatigue after so many games since football returned in June. Maybe it was complacency.

Whatever it was, it was the kind of match we are more used to seeing the actual championships themselves, rather than qualifying.

So at least we can hope they are getting their duff displays out the way early.

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Ryan Sessegnon, right, celebrates the opening goal with Josh DaSilva

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Ryan Sessegnon, right, celebrates the opening goal with Josh DaSilvaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Huseyin Turkmen put the ball into his own net after 17 minutes

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Huseyin Turkmen put the ball into his own net after 17 minutes Credit: Getty Images – Getty

They took a fortunate lead when defender Huseyin Turkmen deflected Ryan Sessegnon’s cross into his own net on 17 minutes.

England thought they had a second soon after when captain Nketiah fired in on the rebound after Josh Dasilva’s shot had been pushed onto the post, but was flagged offside.

He had the ball in the net again shortly after the break as he tapped in Sessegnon’s cross – but the Spurs loanee was harshly judged offside.

Had VAR been deployed the goal probably would have been given – and it probably would have chalked off the penalty ref Willy Delajod moments later.

Forward Dervisoglu seized onto a poor backpass from Oliver Skipp and went down as Ramsdale raced out to him – but replays showed the stopper did not touch him.

Maybe the injustice of the decision was going through a sheepish-looking Dervisoglu as his weak spot-kick was easily saved by the Sheffield United keeper.

Turkey had numerous other chances but then conceded a penalty when James Justin was tripped in the area.

England have booked their spot at next summer's tournament

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England have booked their spot at next summer’s tournamentCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Nketiah fluffed his lines by hitting the woodwork from 12 yards – but made amends minutes later when racing clear and clipping in his record-breaking strike.

Boothroyd’s men still had time to concede in injury-time through Dervisoglu’s close-range finish though.

It was perhaps a fitting ending to an unconvincing performance – the type that could cost them in Hungary and Slovenia next year if they are not careful.

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