James Maddison shines in England U21s 2-1 European Championship qualifying win over Ukraine
PUBLISHED: 19:54 27 March 2018 | UPDATED: 20:54 27 March 2018
James Maddison's 11th assist of the season helped England's Under-21s beat Ukraine 2-1 on Tuesday night to move a step closer the U21 European Championship finals.
Maddison’s cushioned pass split the visiting defence for Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin to coolly beat Andriy Lunin in the first half in front of a 22,000 plus crowd at Bramall Lane.
Mykola Shaparenko looked to have earned the visitors a point when he planted a free header past Maddison’s Norwich club mate Angus Gunn seven minutes from time.
But Dominic Solanke, who replaced Maddison in the 77th minute, headed Ben Chilwell’s cross past Lunin seven yards out to seal a hard-fought victory for Aidy Boothroyd’s squad.
The Young Lions moved five points clear of Holland at the top of Group D, after a fifth win in six qualifying games, as they look to reach the final stages of the tournament in Italy next year.
Maddison’s best chance to open his goal account on his full debut for his country came in the 69th minute when he curled Josh Onomah’s pass beyond the far post.
Gunn was largely untroubled, despite some prolonged spells of possession from the visitors, although Jonjoe Kenny produced an excellent goal line clearance in the second half.
“That was brilliant from Jonjoe,” said Boothroyd. “It is not the fiirst time he has done that. We had the quality to sccore at the other end of the pitch. Overall really, really pleased but we know we can get much better - which is the exciting thing.
“When you play a team like this you have to be clever enough to play the right passes. We got a bit of space, moved it quickly and it was a great pass (from James) in between players and nice for Dominic to score. A lot of players would jump out of the way but he was brave and got his reward.”
• Norwich City’s on-loan midfielder Kenny McLean played the final 20 minutes in Scotland’s 1-0 friendly win against Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday.
McLean, who earned his third cap for his country, signed for the Canaries in January befor returning to his former club Aberdeen until the end of the season.
Meanwhile academy striker Adam Idah completed a successful international break by helping the Republic of Ireland’s Under-17s top their elite qualifying group by beating Poland 1-0 on Tuesday.
The Irish had already qualified for the finals, to be held in England in May, following wins over Macedonia and Georgia.
Idah came on in the 55th minute in a game settled by Troy Parrott’s second half penalty.