England U21 debuts for two Norwich City players during eventful qualifying win in Turkey
- Credit: Football Association
Two of Norwich City’s promising trio earned their first England Under-21 caps this evening, helping earn a hard fought 3-2 win in Turkey to kick-start the Young Lions’ European Championship qualification campaign.
Max Aarons started the game at the 35,000 capacity Kocaeli Stadium in Izmit, the home of well supported third-tier side Kocaelispor, playing in a right wing-back position - but Norwich team-mates Todd Cantwell and Bon Godfrey had to settle for a place on the bench.
Aidy Boothroyd's team took the lead in just the fourth minute when Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah, currently on loan at Leeds, turned in after good play from Manchester City starlet Phil Foden on the left.
Turkey equalised in the 25th minute though, with Aarons sprinting across after Do?ukan Sinik had been played in behind the England defence, but failing to prevent a low shot being slotted past Bournemouth keeper Aaron Ramsdale.
The hosts then took the lead from a corner just six minutes after the break but England turned the game around quickly, scoring twice inside two minutes midway through the second half. Nketiah scored his second after again being teed up by good play from Foden and then another Arsenal prospect, Reiss Nelson, put the visitors ahead.
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There was a let off as the Turks had a goal disallowed for offside soon after, with City defender Godfrey coming on for the final 10 minutes as Boothroyd looked to make sure of the three points, replacing Wolves midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White.
The former York City trainee came close to a fourth for the Young Lions soon after coming on but couldn't turn a Foden corner in at the back post as he stretched to try and head goalwards.
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Aarons was also booked late on for time-wasting, after taking too long over a thrown-in, but completed the 90 minutes and both appeared to come through the game without any injury concerns.
It was a first U21 cap for both Aarons and Godfrey, adding to previous caps at U19 and U20 levels respectively, but Cantwell didn't get his debut as the Dereham youngster remained an unused substitute.
The U21s play their second match of Group Three qualifying for the 2021 European Championship in Hungary and Slovenia when they take on Kosovo in Hull on Monday night, with kick-off at 6.45pm at the KCOM Stadium.
Elsewhere, Canaries midfielder Kenny McLean started on the bench as Scotland hosted Russia in Euro 2020 qualifying at Hampden Park but was introduced in the 62nd minute with the hosts already losing 2-1.
Aston Villa midfielder Jon McGinn had given the Scots an early lead but the visitors turned the match around with goals either side of the break.
McLean was booked for a challenge on striker Artem Dzyuba within 10 minutes of coming on and couldn't find the target when the ball sat up nicely for him to have a shot from the edge of the box in the 74th minute, firing high and wide.
The 2-1 loss leaves Steve Clarke's team six points adrift of the second-placed Russians and with qualification looking unlikely with five games to play, with group leaders Belgium heading to Glasgow on Monday night.
Canaries striker Adam Idah did start as the Republic of Ireland U21s hosted Armenia in Euro qualification, playing 66 minutes before being replaced with the hosts leading. Norwich winger Simon Power was not involved in the 1-0 win, with the Irish having another qualifier in Sweden on Tuesday.
City defender Rocky Bushiri, who is currently out on loan at Blackpool, was an unused substitute for the Belgium U21s as they lost their qualifier 1-0 in Wales. The centre-back will hope to feature in a home clash with Bosnia & Herzegovina U21s on Tuesday.