Football: Young England do their seniors a service

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The Independent Online
England Under-21. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Netherlands Under-21. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

DUTCH footballers are renowned for their intelligence and attacking brio but there was little in evidence at Fratton Park last night. England, playing the more thoughtful and purposeful football, dominated this European Under-21 Championship Group Two tie, completing their scoring within the first half-hour to give them an outside chance of qualifying.

The young pretenders had clearly overheard Graham Taylor's call for the seniors to hustle the Dutch out of their elegant stride. Garry Flitcroft rampaged through the middle, dispossessing opponents and feeding the ball forward to an eager front trio of Chris Sutton, Mike Sheron and Darren Anderton.

Sheron it was who broke into the house of orange. The first of his brace was delightful. Ugo Ehiogu, who last night became the first black player to captain an England side in a competitive match, swept the ball forward to Sutton, who transferred the direction of the attack to Sheron; from 25 yards he curled a beauty around Oscar Moens, the Dutch keeper.

'Sheron's a lad who sees situations very early,' Lawrie McMenemy, the England Under-21 manager, said. 'This was particularly obvious with our second goal.' Sheron turned provider for this one, directing Richard Hall's huge headed clearance into Anderton's path and the former Portsmouth player slipped the ball under Moens much to the delight of the 6,752 crowd.

For his second, Sheron drilled the ball home after Flitcroft had won possession 30 yards out. 'We tend to say that the Dutch have a lot of individual skills, but we showed that we can live with that,' McMenemy said.

ENGLAND UNDER-21: Gerrard (Oldham); R Jones (Liverpool), Small (Aston Villa), Jackson (Everton), Hall (Southampton), Ehiogu (Aston Villa), Flitcroft (Man City), Sheron (Man City), Sutton (Norwich), Cox (Aston Villa), Anderton (Tottenham). Substitute: Clark (Newcastle) for Cox, 74.

NETHERLANDS UNDER-21: Moens (Excelsior); Vierklau (Utrecht), Faber (PSV Eindhoven), Von Hoogdalem (RKC Waalwijk), Van der Gaag (PSV), Buskermolen (AZ Alkmaar), Van Gastel (Willem II Tilburg), Davids (Ajax), Pahlpatz (Twente Enschede), Scheepers (MVV Maastricht), Hoekstra (PSV Eindhoven). Substitutes: Mutsaers (RBC Roosendaal) for Vierklau, 61; Van As (MVV Maastricht) for Scheepers, 87.

Referee: M Diaz Vega (Spain).

Graeme Souness was fined pounds 500 plus costs and warned about his future conduct when he was found guilty of ungentlemanly conduct by an FA disciplinary commission yesterday. The Liverpool manager had abused a linesman at Crystal Palace last month.