Benik Afobe's impressive hat-trick for England Under-19s helped Noel Blake's team to an emphatic 4-0 victory over Cyprus yesterday at Malmedy, Belgium, ensuring their progression to next year's European Championship Elite Round.
After their resounding 6-1 success over Albania last Friday, in which Afobe completed the scoring, England recorded another crushing victory, largely courtesy of the Arsenal striker. The 17-year-old, who joined the Gunners' academy at the age of six and scored 40 goals for the club's under-15 team two seasons ago, scored twice in the first half before completing his treble after the break, while captain Jonjo Shelvey, of Liverpool, also scored to seal the points. England now top the table with hosts Belgium on six points, and the nations will meet in Wednesday's final group game to see who qualifies in top spot.
Four minutes into the match and England breached their opponents' defence. Liverpool's Michael Ngoo muscled his way past Harris Drakos before teeing up Afobe, who drilled home from six yards to put England on their way.
The duo combined again in the 33rd minute when Ngoo's high cross from the right gave Afobe a simple tap-in at the far post. Cyprus then had a chance to spark a revival when Bruno Pilatos brought down Alex Konstantinou in the box just before the break. Onisiforos Roushias stepped up to take the ensuing spot-kick and struck low to Jed Steer's right, which allowed the Norwich goalkeeper to palm the ball on to the post to deny Cyprus and keep the scoreline at 2-0 to England.
Shelvey made it three shortly after the break when his right-foot strike found the net from 20 yards before Afobe completed his hat-trick.