Football: Gerrard goal sets Howard on way

England Under-21s 5 Luxembourg Under-21s 0

HOWARD WILKINSON ushered in his latest reign as England under- 21 manager by maintaining the current side's perfect qualification programme. With their group already won, England strolled to a seventh consecutive victory - 22 goals scored, still none conceded - after two of the under- 18 internationals Wilkinson introduced got the show on the road with goalscoring debuts.

The Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard and Francis Jeffers, the Everton striker not originally named in this squad, produced the first-half finishes which whetted the sizable crowd's appetite for a goal glut that belatedly materialised with strikes from the relatively established figures of Lee Hendrie, Carl Cort and Frank Lampard.

Wilkinson, the Football Association's technical director, has made a cornerstone of his succession to Peter Taylor the mantra that "if it isn't broken, don't fix it."

He was previously in charge of this level of English football back in the latter days of Ron Greenwood's reign and he has been sensitive to the progress this team has made during Taylor's three years in charge. "They've been moulded into a very good unit and credit goes to Peter Taylor for that," he said.

The new coach maintained the 3-5-2 formation and reaped dividends from the outset, wide players cutting in from the flanks to set up the first two goals. Certainly this performance should send all the right vibes through to England supporters and seniors rather less sure of qualification for Euro 2000. Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer, Michael Owen and company were among the 18,094 spectators and they will be hoping the visitors' senior side provide as little resistance at Wembley this afternoon.

Wilkinson is keen for this side to maintain their progression while overseeing a more structured development of players coming through from the youth sides. So he was delighted to see Gerrard, who captained his under-18s last, impress throughout and opening the scoring. A low cross from the right by Manchester United's Luke Chadwick, was deflected out to the edge of the penalty area, and Gerrard struck home a left-footed drive.

"There are players coming through and we've got to keep them in the stream and make the system we started in the summer work. This is just the start of the journey for them," Wilkinson said.

The lead was doubled after 32 minutes. Jeffers has come through a sticky early-season period with Everton to regain the scoring touch, which he displayed to devasting effect last night. Matt Upson ventured all the way forward into a left-wing berth and his near-post centre was flicked nonchalantly home by the Everton teenager.

Luxembourg have managed no goals and have no points, in this qualifying campaign and they did not muster an effort to trouble the debutant goalkeeper, Nick Weaver.

The Aston Villa midfielder Hendrie scored a lovely third for England after 62 minutes. When Lampard's corner was deflected out to the edge of the area, he shaped to shoot, cut back on to his left and then arrowed a right-footed shot into the far corner. Cort came on to make his customary impact, scoring his sixth goal from as many games when he converted Chadwick's right-wing delivery at the second attempt before Lampard, fittingly, completed England's second five-goal rout of these opponents by producing a delightful chip when sent clear by Cort.

ENGLAND UNDER-21S (3-5-2): Weaver (Manchester City); Mills (Leeds United), Carragher (Liverpool), Upson (Arsenal); Chadwick (Manchester United), Lampard (West Ham United), Gerrard, (Liverpool), Hendrie (Aston Villa), Ball; Jeffers (both Everton), Heskey (Leicester City). Substitutes used: Cort (Wimbledon) for Heskey, 49; King (Tottenham) for Upson, 69; Thompson (Liverpool) for Lampard 81.

LUXEMBOURG UNDER-21S (4-5-1): Gillett; Bollendorf (Schaack, 77), Parasch (Molitor, 68), Beffort, Hellenbrand; Birtz, Huss, Pace (Koenig, 41), Teixeira, Santos; Braun.

Referee: B Pregia (Albania).

n Stephen McPhail suffered damaged ankle ligaments as Republic of Ireland youngsters were beaten 5-1 by Croatia in yesterday's European Under-21 Championship qualifier in Zagreb. The Leeds United midfielder was sent for an X-ray to confirm that he had not suffered a fracture.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Senior Sales Broker - OTE £100,000

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportuni...

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor