England U21 3-0 Albania U21: Folarin Balogun scores in Young Lions win

England U21 3-0 Albania U21: Young Lions make their dominance count as Folarin Balogun scores a poacher’s brace in a comfortable win

  • England U21 were deserved winners as they beat Albania U21 comfortably 3-0
  • Cameron Archer finished the game off with a clinical finish off the bench 
  • Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun was the star as he scored a  paocher’s goal in each half
  • Emilie Smith-Rowe and Anthony Gordon also impressed for the Young Lions 

The night England’s Under 21s secured their place at next summer’s European Championship rather encapsulated the qualifying campaign as a whole.

England were patient, pushing clear of their opposition later in the evening after wearing them down, and England did not react to prickly antagonism. There were bumps, a few bruises. Albania – obdurate, lacking any real attacking intent – tried kicking as many limbs as possible and ended with 10 men.

Both of those traits should serve Lee Carsley’s side well at the Euros this time next year. They are there with a couple of games to spare after Folarin Balogun settled this with two poacher’s finishes, while Cameron Archer’s clever late flick added gloss.

Folarin Balogun scored an impressive poachers brace for the Young Lions to sink Albania

England U21 controlled the game from start to finish as Albania U21 struggled to make inroads

‘We shouldn’t take qualifying for granted,’ Carsley said. ‘We’ve shown resilience and that we can control games. When a team is so deep it’s important you don’t get frustrated or force things. I want us to play attacking and be expressive, penetrate whenever we get chance.’

Anthony Gordon, the Everton winger, was a shining light off the left-hand side and caused untold problems. Albania often double-marked him and it was looking as if they would reach half-time boasting a clean sheet after Angel Gomes could only strike a post from a flowing one-touch team move.

Anthony Gordon caused problems for the Albania defence all night with his pace and crossing

The visitors undid themselves seconds before the break, however, when Adolf Selmani failed to recover from a poor first touch inside his own box. He may have averted danger had it not been for the tenacity of Emile Smith Rowe who, off the back of Friday’s stunning strike away in the Czech Republic, robbed the centre half of possession and England were in. Smith Rowe squared for Arsenal team mate Balogun, waiting to force into an empty net.

That is when Albania started lashing out and England resembled prey. Gordon was constantly hacked down. ‘It’s easier said than done but if someone is kicking you then take it as a compliment,’ Carsley added. ‘Anthony was outstanding. You just have to keep giving him the ball.’

Gomes went flying into an advertising hoarding after a late shove and Balogun doubled his tally from the resulting free kick. Morgan Gibbs-White’s cross was nodded back across by Charlie Cresswell and Balogun waited to head his sixth goal of this campaign from two yards. Archer impressed off the bench, instinctively meeting Gordon’s centre to score a third, while Albania’s Armando Dobra later saw red. 

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