Jenas inspires victory

England Under-19 3 Hungary Under-19 1
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The Independent Football

England comfortably scaled the first hurdle towards qualification for the European Under-19 Championship with a convincing victory yesterday in a fixture full of resonance.

England comfortably scaled the first hurdle towards qualification for the European Under-19 Championship with a convincing victory yesterday in a fixture full of resonance.

England, having beaten Georgia 4-1 at York in the opening game of this mini-qualifying group, needed only to draw here to ensure they went through to a two-legged play-off with Lithuania. Victory in that would seal their passage through to next summer's finals in Norway.

Most of the England players were not even born when a senior England side, captained by Kevin Keegan, won for the first time in the Nep stadium to secure qualification for the 1982 World Cup and to them the events of 1953 would rate alongside the last Ice Age.

This generation of Hungarians was content to absorb English pressure and counter-attack, tactics that might have paid dividends had Peter Czvitkovics, their most dangerous player, been able to convert more than one of the chances that fell his way. By the time his shot clipped off the post in the 85th minute, England had already ensured victory in a display which, in common with their most recent matches at this level, grew more rounded as the match wore on. ''I was more impressed with the result than the performance," said the England coach, Martin Hunter. "Our track record at youth level against Eastern bloc countries is poor and needed to be put right."

Just as he had done against Georgia, the England captain, Jermaine Jenas, provided the inspiration for victory, rising above two defenders and the keeper to head in a corner from Gary O'Neil, who had earlier come closest to breaking the deadlock with a shot against the crossbar.

When two minutes after the restart, Justin Hoyte, a product of Arsenal's youth policy who may yet compare to Jermaine Pennant and Ashley Cole, finished a move he had begun with an overhead kick that found the top corner, the contest was over. The Hungarian defence, increasingly stretched by the superior fitness of an England side honed in club academies, might have conceded more than three had Lionel Morgan's shooting been more accurate.

The match was wrapped up in the 58th minute by a free-kick from Sunderland's Ben Clark that curled round the wall and left Gyorgy Varadi stranded in the Hungarian goal. The fact he plays centre-half made the shot all the more memorable.

Goals: Jenas (40) 1-0; Hoyte (46) 2-0; Clark (58) 3-0; Czvitkovics (85) 3-1.

ENGLAND UNDER-19 (4-3-3): Grant (Derby); Hoyte (Arsenal), Johnson (West Ham), Clark (Sunderland), Hylton (Aston Villa), O'Neil (Portsmouth), Jenas (Nottingham Forest), Cooke (Aston Villa), Chopra (Newcastle), Ashton (Crewe), Morgan (Wimbledon). Substitutes: Fox (Manchester United) for O'Neill, 83; Moore (Aston Villa) for Ashton, 75; Bowditch (Tottenham) for Morgan, 90.

Hungary Under-19 (4-4-2): Varadi, Lucza, Vanczak, Meszaros, Feher (Jozsi, 83), Lettrich, Regedei, Huszti (Csopaki, 61), Deme, Toth (Viragh, 66), Czvitkovics.

Referee: S Kaldma (Estonia).

Man of the match: O'Neil.

Attendance: 3,476.

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