Goals from Gabriel Agbonlahor and James Milner guided Stuart Pearce's Under-21 side to a vital win over Bulgaria in their European Championship qualifier here last night.
The Aston Villa striker headed home Milner's cross in the 40th minute before the Newcastle midfielder capped a dominant display with a late penalty.
It maintains England's 100 per cent record in Group Three and a sixth straight win in Portugal on Tuesday would all but ensure their progress to the play-offs for a chance to secure a place in the finals in Sweden. However, there is a worry over Agbonlahor after the striker left the field injured with 10 minutes to go following a rash challenge on the touchline.
In the early stages a silly pass by Lee Cattermole across his own area presented Valeri Domovchiyski with a shooting chance, which Joe Hart smothered. Another quick break from Nikolai Dimitrov then led to Lyubomir Bozhinov shooting just wide before David Wheater wasted a great chance when he dragged his shot wide from six yards after Steven Taylor had flicked on a Craig Gardner cross.
England were beginning to find their stride and Cattermole should have done better in the 35th minute when he blazed over. The hosts struck when Milner crossed from the left to the near post and Agbonlahor headed in off the upright.
Bulgaria responded well and should twice have equalised before the break. Firstly, Mattock back-heeled off his own goalline after Hart had parried a low cross into his path before Domovchiyski scuffed a shot straight at Hart when clean through.
Theo Walcott could have increased England's lead after half-time, but his touch let him down. However, he won the clinching penalty when tripped while attempting to round the goalkeeper, Nikolai Mihailov.Reuse content