Monday evening saw Cauley Woodrow help England get their Under-21 European Championship qualifying campaign off to the ideal start, playing 90 minutes as they beat Norway 1-0 in Drammen.
It was a tough test for the Young Lions on the Marienlyst Stadium’s artificial pitch and they survived a scare when Ghayas Zahid’s shot hit the crossbar and went over, but it was the visitors who made the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time.
Norwich City’s Nathan Redmond was tripped in the penalty area, and England captain and Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to put his side in front.
That goal was perhaps harsh on Norway – who had Real Madrid starlet and full international Martin Odegaard in their starting XI – and they continued to dominate proceedings in the second half, only to be denied by some resolute defending and good goalkeeping from Sunderland’s Preston North End loanee Jordan Pickford.
The win moved Gareth Southgate’s charges above their opponents to the top of Group 9.
Mattias Kait was handed a full debut for Estonia Under-21s after being promoted from the Under-19 setup, but he was unable to prevent his side from slipping to a 4-0 loss at home to Croatia.
The Fulham youngster, who only turned 17 in the summer, played the full 90 minutes but goals from Antonio Milic, Mario Pasalic (2) and Josip Radosevic did the damage.
It was Kait’s second taste of U21 European qualifying action, after he came on for the final five minutes on Wednesday as two late goals earned Spain a 2-0 win in Tallinn.
In qualifying for the senior tournament in France next year, Sakari Mattila again came on as a late substitute as Finland made it two wins from two at home to the Faroe Islands.
Joel Pohjanpalo – who netted the winner against Greece three days earlier – was again the difference for Finland, heading in the game’s only goal midway through the first half.
Mattila came on in the 84th minute to replace Thomas Lam, while Jesse Joronen was an unused substitute.
Those two wins have done Finland the world of good, as they can potentially grab a Play-Off spot – something that’s out of Greece’s reach. Kostas Mitroglou played 87 minutes as they grabbed a rare positive result on Monday – a goalless draw in Romania.
Adam Taggart was on target for Australia Under-23s, but they fell to a 3-1 friendly defeat by Macedonia in Skopje.
The Fulham striker, who’s currently on loan at Dundee United, restored parity shortly after Demir Imeri’s opener, but efforts from Viktor Angelov and Petar Petkovski settled the tie in the hosts’ favour.
At Under-20 level, Moussa Dembélé won a penalty just before the hour mark for France in their friendly against the Netherlands. He saw his spot-kick saved, but the rebound was put in by Alexis Blin. Maxwell Cornet then grabbed a second for Les Bleus in the 77th minute to wrap things up.
Finally, Shane Elworthy and Anthony Dolan played a half each as Republic of Ireland Under-19s were beaten 2-1 in Italy.
The visitors took the lead through Swansea City’s Tom Holland, but second-half strikes from Luca Vido and Ivan De Santis meant Ireland slipped to a friendly defeat in Cava de'Tirreni.