Chelsea striker Dom Solanke scored the only goal of the game as England won their opening European under 17 Championship elite qualifier against Czech Republic.
It was England’s first of three games in Czech Republic and the win against the host nation sets them up well for tomorrow’s encounter against Albania.
The Albanians lost 2-1 against England’s final group opponents Italy yesterday afternoon.
Chelsea teammate Isaiah Brown had the initial shot that led to Solanke’s goal. His effort rebounded off the inside of the post before Solanke found himself in the right place at the right time to give England a 58th minute lead.
Jiri Kilma came close for the hosts in the opening stages and Vaclav Cerny almost caught Freddie Woodman out as he tried to emulate Wayne Rooney’s spectacular halfway line lob from the weekend, but the Newcastle United stopper was able to recover and tip it over the crossbar.
Manchester United’s Demetri Mitchell and Newcastle’s Adam Armstrong came close in the second-half and despite a late flurry of pressure from the Czechs, all three points were that of John Peacock’s men.
Coach Peacock praised his side after the match, in particular goalkeeper Woodman in relation to his save from Cerny. He told thefa.com: “We need good goalkeepers – you are going to have to always make a save or two when you are playing the host country in front of a partisan crowd and we are lucky to have two in this squad.
“We had been watching the videos and knew that he liked to shoot from distance, so we were expecting it, but it was a great save.
“When your ‘keeper makes a great reaction save like Freddie did, it does give everyone a lift and I think it did that against Czech Republic.”
Following the slow start, Peacock was pleased at the response his side gave: “We told them before the game that they had trained really hard and prepared right all week. The best teams transfer that onto the pitch, and I felt for the first 20 minutes we did not. We didn’t make clinical decisions, and kept giving the ball back in silly areas.
“It’s this pressure situation – you have to deal with it and not put yourselves under pressure like we did for the first 20 minutes.
“But after that, we got back into it and had a few chances. We had a word at half time, and the second half was much better and we controlled it from start to finish.”
“The tempo was much better and because we were making the correct decisions, we retained the ball a lot more. And that is what led to the goal, with Izzy pressurising and nicking it off their defender.
“I’d said to Dominic after he had missed a few that he would get the next one, and although it was a tap in from two yards, I’m delighted for him and all the squad because everyone played their part.”