England 3 Romania 0 match report: Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Zaha run the show for Stuart Pearce's in-form Under-21 side

 

Adams Park

If this was a glimpse of the future for English football, then Stuart Pearce should have a summer to savour.

Watched by senior coach Gary Neville, a clinical victory inspired by Wilfried Zaha and Raheem Sterling against a young Romania side in Wycombe confirmed there is every chance Pearce's fourth attempt to win the European Championships could end in glory in Israel.

Whatever happens, the latest batch of emerging players will give future England managers plenty to work with – even if things go wrong for Roy Hodgson over the next few months.

"Some of the football was outstanding," said assistant manager Brian Eastwick. "Stuart has had the opportunity to look at some new players but he is pretty sure of 16 or 17 of the players who will go to Israel. We've had a very good run so the important thing is to keep that going because it creates confidence going into a big tournament."

After winning their last seven matches without conceding a single goal, Pearce took the opportunity to name a strong side packed with experience at this level.

After Henri Lansbury hobbled off following a collision with Romania keeper Laurent Branescu inside the opening two minutes, replacement Nathan Delfouneso added yet more zip to a lightning-quick front three, with Crystal Palace winger Zaha asked to play an unfamiliar central role while Sterling was on the left.

England should have gone ahead when Zaha picked out Sterling unmarked but his shot was straight at Branescu. Sterling looked back to his best on the left flank and almost capped a sensational solo, only for his shot to whistle over the bar. Eleven minutes before half-time, the breakthrough finally came as Zaha once again exchanged passes with Sterling, beat two players and curled his shot into the net.

The Sterling show continued after the break as a dipping shot from just outside the box just missing the target. He was withdrawn just after substitute Jack Robinson volleyed home a pinpoint cross from Jonjo Shelvey but there was plenty to remind Liverpool what they have been missing.

Delfouneso added a third in the penultimate minute following another assist from Shelvey, although Pearce will know much stiffer tests lie ahead.

England U21 Butland (Steele 87), Clyne (Smith 74),Wisdom, Dawson, Rose (Robinson 46), Sterling (Sordell 64), Chalobah (Carroll 74), Shelvey, Henderson (Lowe 75), Lansbury (Delfouneso 7), Zaha (Wickham 88).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test