The earlier kick-off saw England in action against Armenia in the first of their UEFA European Championship qualifiers, with Patrick Roberts handed a starting berth on the right-hand side of a front three.
The tricky winger needed less than three minutes to give the Young Lions the lead. In a week where Fulham players are making headlines for scoring magnificent goals, Roberts certainly continued the trend. Having received the ball 10 yards inside the opposition’s half, he showed a great burst of pace to advance forward and beat the Armenia left-back before cutting inside and slamming the ball into the back of the net from 18 yards out. The fact that the effort was on his weaker left foot only added to the quality of the strike which flew into the top right-hand corner of the goal.
Adam Armstrong – who featured for Newcastle United Under-21s in their recent 2-2 draw with Fulham at Craven Cottage – then doubled the lead for England just after the half-hour mark, before a late effort from Chelsea’s Dominic Solanke made the game safe. There was still time for Armstrong to add some gloss to the scoreline, though, as the Young Lions made an ideal start to their campaign with a 4-0 win.
Also in Group 7, Shane Elworthy starred for the Republic of Ireland as they too secured an impressive opening victory with a 4-1 win over Gibraltar. The international newcomers actually took an early lead but Ireland responded within 10 minutes to equalise through Manchester City youngster Tom Holland.
Elworthy then took over proceedings as he grabbed two goals in six minutes to put daylight between the sides. The winger had a golden chance to make it a hat-trick in the second half but saw his penalty saved by the Gibraltar goalkeeper, although the fourth goal did arrive later on courtesy of Steven Kinsella’s effort.
All the matches of the mini-qualifying tournament will take place in Armenia, with England facing Gibraltar and Ireland taking on the hosts on Saturday. The sides will then face each other in what’s likely to be a top-of-the-table clash on Tuesday as the two young Fulham wingers go head to head.