England U21 earn advantage over Romania in at Carrow Road

Defender Chris Smalling struck seven minutes from time to give England Under-21s a 2-1 victory in the first leg of their European Championship play-off at a packed Carrow Road.

The Manchester United centre-back scored from a corner by substitute Marc Albrighton to give Stuart Pearce's team a one-goal advantage going into the second leg in Romania on Tuesday.

Jordan Henderson, of Sunderland, had given England a 63rd-minute lead with a superb volley, only for ex-Canary defender Ryan Bertrand to suffer cruel misfortune eight minutes later when he diverted a cross from Ioan Hora into his own net for the equaliser.

England were worth the win after dominating the second half, whereas the Romanians had often looked more threatening before the break and struck the post on the stroke of half-time through captain Gabriel Torje.

Romania began brightly and forced a corner in the second minute, but Alexe was penalised as he headed across the face of the England goal.


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Barboianu was shown the first yellow card in the third minute for a foul on Cleverley and in a lively opening, keeper Lung punched away Bertrand's cross and Henderson's follow-up volley as England threatened for the first time.

Hora latched on to a clearance from Jones and fired wide as the Romanians swept forward again.

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Hora almost broke the deadlock in the 12th minute when Barboianu headed a free-kick back into his path and he poked a shot goalwards, where Jones cleared from close to his own goalline.

Jones headed wide from a Cleverley free-kick after Barboianu was penalised again.

A foul by Rose on Torje gave Romania another free-kick, Torje swinging it to the far post where Gardos volleyed wide.

Fielding made an important save in the 26th minute when good work by Barboianu set up Bicfalvi, who weaved his way into shooting range and fired left-footed across goal, the keeper diving to his left to hold on.

There were loud appeals for an England penalty after 28 minutes when Rose moved on to an excellent Bertrand through-ball on the left and appeared to be shoved over by Papa, but the Italian referee was unmoved.

Lung cut out a cross from Cleverley at the near post as the home team switched line of attack to the right flank.

Henderson tested Lung with another long-range effort as England began to get a greater share of the play.

There were further penalty appeals when Rose went down again under challenge from Gaman, but again the official was unimpressed.

Henderson floated another long-range effort just over the top as England began to look more at home.

Torje struck the post in the final minute of the half – the closest either side had come to scoring.

England began the second half brightly with Welbeck earning a corner and Jones floating a cross just over the angle of crossbar and post.

Gaman conceded a corner when he cut out Henderson's cross and when Henderson took the corner, Jones nodded it back but there was no finish.

England's efforts were rewarded when they took the lead in the 63rd minute.

Mancienne's low drive was deflected just past the post for a corner.

Cleverley took the kick, Lung chose to punch but Henderson, 20 yards out, volleyed it straight back past the 'keeper.

Romania immediately made a change with Ionescu replacing Neagu.

Wilshere did well to get away from Papa as England threatened again but his cross was cut out by Lung at the near post.

Romania had not troubled the home defence since the break but drew level in the 71st minute with ex-Canary Bertrand scoring a most unfortunate own goal.

Hora played a one-two with Gardos on the right and his low cross was inadvertently diverted by Bertrand, just enough to wrongfoot Fielding and roll inside the far post.

Smalling got back to deny Alexe a shooting chance as Romania gained confidence from the goal.

With 15 minutes to go, Cleverley was replaced by Albrighton as England boss Pearce made his first change.

Sturridge was the second substitute used, replacing Welbeck with 10 minutes left.

Hora was shown the yellow card for a foul on Wilshere.

With seven minutes left England regained the lead from an Albrighton corner. Sturridge headed the flag-kick back at the far post and Smalling knocked the ball home from close range.

Fielding made a flying save from Bicfalvi in stoppage time to preserve England's one-goal advantage to take into the second leg.

•England – Fielding; Mancienne, Smalling, Jones, Bertrand; Cleverley (Albrighton 75), Henderson, Muamba, Rose; Wilshere (Cork 90); Welbeck (Sturridge 80). Subs (not used): Loach, Lansbury, Walker, Delfouneso.

•Romania – Lung; Papa, Gaman, Papp, Barboianu; Torje, Neagu (Ionescu 63), Gardos, Bicfalvi; Hora; Alexe (Sburlea 81). Subs: Lungu, Matel, Rusescu, Chiriches, Radut.

Referee – Paolo Tagliavento (Italy)

Attendance – 25,749

Goals – England: Henderson (63), Smalling (83). Romania: Bertrand og (71).

Bookings – Romania: Barboianu (3), Hora (82).

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