20th Oct, 2017

Gareth Southgate's Young Lions claim comfortable win in Coventry

Steve Carpenter 14th Oct, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

GARETH Southgate says his England Under-21 side deserved all three points after beating Kazakhstan 3-0 at the Ricoh Arena on Tuesday evening in their 2017 European Championship qualifier.

Despite dominating the opening period, England failed to find a breakthrough in the opening 45 minutes against a stubborn Kazakhstan side.

But the hosts came to life after the break and goals from man of the match Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathan Redmond and former Sky Blues loan striker Chuba Akpom ensured England maintained their 100 per cent winning record in Group 9.

“It played out as we thought it might,” said Southgate. “Kazakhstan were difficult to break down with a threat on the counter attack which they had.

“We had a clear plan of how we needed to play to break down a packed defence and we stuck to that and then within that plan, the individuality of the players came out as well.

“We maybe could have got the goal earlier, we had a few chances and hit the post, so we could have been a bit more clinical in and around the box.

“But from the first minute to the last, we moved and used the ball really well and looked a threat.

“We controlled the game, but we were also disciplined in our play to win the ball back when we could and I think the result was well deserved.”

Akpom had two glorious chances to open the scoring in the first half but he hit the woodwork after 12 minutes from close range and then headed a James Ward-Prowse corner over shortly before the break.

The deadlock was finally broken seven minutes into the second half when Loftus-Cheek pounced on a loose ball inside the area to fire England in front.

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford then produced a superb assist by kicking the ball the length of the pitch to Redmond who cut inside and slotted home England’s second goal on 20 minutes.

And deep into injury-time Akpom sealed the win by diverting Joe Gomez’s cross from the right to make it a debut to remember.

Speaking about Pickford’s assist, Southgate added: “It was a wonderful pass, it showed a great understanding of the game and great technique.

“And what was really pleasing was the whole team acknowledging the goal and that sums up the week that we’ve had.

“They’ve really come together as a group and have a much clearer understanding of how we want to play and those shared experiences of the matches that we’ve had are really bringing them together.”

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