Huseyin Turkmen’s own goal and Eddie Nketiah’s history-making strike hand England U21s a place at Euro 2021 with two games to spare; Aaron Ramsdale saves Halil Dervisoglu’s penalty before he scored a late consolation for Turkey U21s
Tuesday 13 October 2020 22:45, UK
Eddie Nketiah became England U21s’ record goalscorer as the Young Lions booked their spot at Euro 2021 with a 2-1 win against Turkey U21s.
Arsenal striker Nketiah scored his 14th goal in just 12 games to seal the victory at Molineux, having missed an earlier penalty. He now overtakes Alan Shearer and Francis Jeffers (both 13) as the all-time leading goalscorer for England’s youth side.
It was a nervy win for England, though, and they needed Aaron Ramsdale to save Halil Dervisoglu’s spot-kick after the forward’s awful dive.
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Huseyin Turkmen’s own goal opened the scoring for the Young Lions, who extended their unbeaten run in European qualifiers to 43 games despite Dervisoglu’s late consolation.
Aidy Boothroyd’s side top Group Three and have rubber-stamped their place in Hungary and Slovenia next year with two matches to spare.
England U21 record goalscorers
England dropped their first points of qualifying when they were held to a surprise draw in Andorra last week but it was a much-changed, and stronger side, who initially dominated Turkey in Wolverhampton.
Everton’s new defender Ben Godfrey returned along with Callum Hudson-Odoi, James Justin and Jude Bellingham among eight changes.
And it was Leicester’s Justin who carved the visitors apart for England’s opener after 17 minutes. His perfect pass dissected the Turkey defence to allow Ryan Sessegnon to break free. The Tottenham wideman, on loan at Hoffenheim, cut in from the left and his cross was deflected in by Turkmen.
Nketiah then thought he had his record goal after tapping in when Josh Dasilva hit the post but was rightly ruled offside. The striker had equalled Alan Shearer and Francis Jeffers’ records with his effort in the 3-3 draw in Andorra.
The hosts were comfortable, with Hudson-Odoi and Bellingham impressing, but Ramsdale was forced into a smart save when he turned away Ahmet Canbaz’s 20-yard drive before the break.
It was just the start of the goalkeeper’s night as he protected the Young Lions’ lead in the second half.
England have not been beaten in a European qualifier since losing 2-1 to Belgium nine years ago but Turkey gave them a scare.
Ramsdale had to beat away Dervisoglu’s fierce effort two minutes into the second half before he thwarted him again from the spot after 53 minutes.
Oliver Skipp’s sloppy backpass sold Ramsdale short and Dervisoglu reached the ball first. He toed the ball past the Sheffield United goalkeeper and took a couple of steps before embarrassingly going down.
Referee Willy Delajod somehow awarded the spot-kick, despite there being no contact, and justice was served when the Blades’ No 1 saved Dervisoglu’s poor penalty low to his left.
Ramsdale then denied Cemali Sertel from close range after the defender robbed a dawdling Hudson-Odoi in the area.
Aside from Nketiah again being denied by an early offside flag before Turkey’s penalty, England rarely threatened as they dug in.
Dervisoglu curled over and Nketiah had a golden chance for his 14th goal when Justin was felled by Serkan Asan in the box with seven minutes left.
The Arsenal striker’s penalty hit the post but he did not have to wait long for his record strike, making amends by clipping in after being sent through by Sessegnon with two minutes remaining.
Dervisoglu did make it 2-1 in injury-time but England held on.
Boothroyd: England have to be better
Boothroyd demanded more from his side after their nervy win over Turkey.
“I thought after the first goal it was going to be a relatively easy night but it was anything but,” he said.
“We managed to get ourselves through so we’re delighted and we can use the next two games as preparation.
“But I said to the players we have to be better than that if we want to progress further. I just don’t want too many of these games where we didn’t do too well but still win.
“It was a more senior team and sometimes you can have brilliant weeks of training and it doesn’t go according to plan.
“With the high standards we set we have to be better. We had a discussion in the dressing room about how we defend better.”
Speaking about Nketiah, Boothroyd added: “Eddie’s a huge talent, a genuinely nice person. He’s great off the pitch for us and on the pitch he takes no prisoners. He’s a real warrior. To surpass Alan (Shearer) is a huge achievement.”
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