Tuesday, June 9, 2009

England U21 7-0 Azerbaijan U21

Michael Mancienne's early strike put England Under-21s on the road to a thumping friendly win over Azerbaijan.

Mancienne scored in the opening minute, Azerbaijan keeper Elcin Sadiqov fumbled into his own net and Craig Gardner volleyed a third in from 12 yards.

Elvin Mammadov's own goal followed before Kieran Gibbs twice side-footed home and Jack Rodwell's late strike sealed the rout.

England ended the game with keeper Joe Lewis playing as an emergency striker.

Coach Stuart Pearce rested some key players as they continued their preparations ahead of the European Championships in Sweden next week.

He named two keepers among his six replacements, with Lewis getting brought on for Lee Cattermole to prevent any injuries.

Pearce insisted he was not disrespecting his opponents by playing keeper Lewis up front and was "forced" into the decision.

"We had to do that because Cat's (Lee Cattermole) pulled a slight injury and with the tournament a week away we were at a loss as what to do," Pearce said.

"We used all our outfield subs and Joe put himself forward to go up front. It was a forced sub.

"Whichever way we did it we didn't want to be seen as disrespectful. That was the last thing I wanted."

Pearce meanwhile says England are in good shape ahead of the championships in Sweden and was delighted to have come through the Azerbaijan game relatively unscathed.

"As a manager you can't ask for more than that," Pearce said.

"Apart from a couple of niggles we've got through pretty much unscathed.

"The spirit is good in the camp. I've had the boys for the last two days, they've been fantastic and they would be crestfallen if they missed it."

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