Football: Slick England open with an easy victory over holders

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The Independent Online
England Under-21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Portugal Under-21. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

OWN-GOALS of one kind or another did nothing for the hopes or reputation of Portugal, the holders of the Toulon Trophy, in their opening match of this year's tournament against England here last night.

Not that England were in need of the help given by Nuno Luis, who scored an own-goal, and Paolo Ferreira, who got himself sent off two minutes from time for spitting.

England, seeking to win this tournament for the third time in four years, were infinitely the better and, it has to be said, bigger side.

Portugal fielded a team from the squad which failed to win a game in the World Youth Championship in Australia. Conversely, England sent to France the same squad, with the exception of four players, which put their seniors to shame with quality performances in Poland and Norway.

Last night, their cohesion and fluency on a testing pitch would have been a lesson to their England elders.

They got off to a flyer. In the second minute Darren Anderton picked out Garry Flitcroft, only for the young Manchester City player to miss the connection. Nuno Luis showed him how with an assured side-footed finish past his own goalkeeper.

Portugal never recovered and after 16 minutes fell further behind. Redknapp threaded a pass to the overlapping Neal Ardley, who side-stepped his defender to cross for Mike Sheron, who had his shot pushed against the post. However, the defender Phil Whelan followed up in the manner of a born goalscorer to convert from a difficult angle. He marred his performance by making gesticulations, for which he was substituted.

ENGLAND UNDER-21: Gerrard (Oldham); Ardley (Wimbledon), Hall (Southampton), Whelan (Ipswich), Small (Aston Villa), Flitcroft (Manchester City), Awford (Portsmouth), Redknapp (Liverpool), Anderton (Tottenham), Allen (Queen's Park Rangers), Sheron (Manchester City). Substitutes: Summerbee (Swindon) for Awford, 45; Sutton (Norwich) for Whelan, 73.

PORTUGAL UNDER-21: Costinha (Boavista); Nuno Luis (Sporting), Sergio (Leixoes), Joao Costa (Nacional), Cardoso (Espinho), Marco Paulo (Estoril Praia), Bambo (Boavista), Ribeiro (Lusitania), Ricardo (Leixoes), Tulipa (Pacos Ferreira), Ferreira (Amadora).

Referee: M Harrel (France).