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15 October 2013

More than 17,000 at Portman Road to watch five goal show

A crowd of over 17,000 watched England U21s beat Lithuania 5-0 as international football returned to Portman Road for the first time in seven years. 

Gareth Southgate’s side dominated the match from the third minute when Wilfried Zaha showed some neat footwork before Ravel Morrison converted from close range. 

More Zaha trickery almost brought a second as the young lions attacked the Sir Bobby Robson Stand in the first-half but the Manchester United winger couldn’t get any power with his shot.

England, who lost Tom Carroll early on with injury, extended the lead on 25 minutes when James Ward-Prowse curled home a free-kick from the edge of the box. 

Nathaniel Chalobah headed over from close range as England swarmed around the Lithuania penalty area and Tom Ince was unlucky not to take Carl Jenkinson’s delivery in his stride when clear as Southgate’s side threatened to end the contest before the break.

Jack Robinson tested Lukas Lidakevicius in the Lithuania goal with a 30 yarder before the half-time whistle brought a respite for the eastern Europeans.

Saido Berahino had an effort deflected over as the second-half began as the first-half ended, though Tomas Biriskys did have Jack Butland scampering across his goal with Lithuania’s first real effort. 

Ince sent a screamer just wide of the far post as normal service was restored and England finally did make it three on the hour when Berahino finished superbly, curling a right footer into the corner after a flowing move.

Lidakevicius had to be alert to tip over from Ince’s header but he was left stranded on 70 minutes when Morrison skipped through the Lithuania defence and wrong-footed the ‘keeper before sliding the ball in the empty net.

The young lions were lining up to shoot at every opportunity, with Berahino testing Lidakevicius with a low drive.

The fifth followed on 74 minutes, Robinson brought down for a penalty and Berahino doing the rest from the spot.

That was the last touch for the West Brom striker who made way for Nathan Redmond as Southgate made two changes, Ince also making way for Nick Powell.

Zaha fired over from the angle as England looked for a sixth, Ward-Prowse inches away from providing it, his right foot shot hitting the inside of the post. 

Southgate promised an entertaining display from his side when he spoke to the Ipswich Player cameras before the game and the Portman Road crowd certainly got that as England cruised to victory.   

England U21s: Butland, Stones, Robinson, Carroll (Jenkinson 17), Keane, Chalobah, Ince (Powell 76) , Ward-Prowse, Berahino (Redmond 76), Morrison, Zaha. Subs not used: Bond, Dier, Lingard, Kane.

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