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Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
Injury-hit England thrive
Mexico's Edoardo Isella eyeballs referee Michael McCurry after his sending off
Isella eyeballs referee McCurry after his sending off
England U21s 3-0 Mexico U21s

Goals from Malcolm Christie, Jermain Defoe and Jay Bothroyd gave England Under-21s a 3-0 victory over Mexico U21s at Filbert Street.

The win was a welcome boost for Howard Wilkinson's depleted side ahead of next month's European Championship qualifier in Greece.

Wilkinson was deprived of 10 of his original squad through injuries and there were only three survivors from the side who defeated Albania in March.


The lads all did well and the fruits of the system that has been put in place are coming through.
  Howard Wilkinson
But there was plenty of encouragement for the future through the likes of Defoe, Shola Ameobi, Sean Davis, David Dunn and Jermaine Pennant.

Skipper John Terry squandered a golden chance to give England an early lead.

A corner by Lee Naylor was completely missed by Mexican defender Oscar Mascorro to leave Terry unmarked inside the six-yard box.

But he sent his header back across goal when it seemed easier to score.

England looked purposeful and Newcastle striker Ameobi, making his first start at U-21 level, had a low shot on the turn parried by Armando Navarrete.

England's Malcolm Christie (top) celebrates the opening goal with Mark Wilson
Christie (top) celebrates his opening goal
The tackles were flying in thick and fast, despite the game being a friendly, and Terry was fortunate to escape punishment for a reckless challenge on Louis Perez.

Mexico started to come more into the game after a tentative start, and Rafael Marquez twice went close to giving his side the lead.

First Coventry goalkeeper Chris Kirkland saved a header on his full debut from Marquez and then the same player was only just off target with a low drive.

Ameobi was on the receiving end of a tackle from behind from Edoardo Isella but Scottish referee Michael McCurry took no action.

Important saves

Navarrete came racing out of his area to clear in desperate fashion on more than one occasion.

But he also produced a couple of important saves and did well to block an effort from Ameobi after a David Dunn cross had only been partially cleared.

Wilkinson rang the changes at the interval, bringing on six substitutes, and one of them, Jermaine Pennant, set up the opener for Derby's Malcolm Christie just three minutes later.

The Arsenal youngster sent over a deep cross which picked out Jermain Defoe. His effort was tipped away by Navarrete but Christie was on hand to convert the rebound.

Shola Ameobi of England out jumps Gerardo Hernandez of Mexico
Ameobi out-jumps Hernandez
England looked more dangerous in the second period and Matthew Upson twice had close-range headers turned away by Navarrete

He also denied Defoe after he had broken clear, but the West Ham striker was not to be thwarted and with 17 minutes left sealed England's victory.

The impressive Davis turned the ball into his path and he turned quickly before slipping the ball wide of Navarrete.

Mexico were then reduced to 10 men when Isella received his second bookable offence - for dissent - after protesting at a foul by Trevor Benjamin who was yellow carded.

Coventry's Jay Bothroyd added a third goal in the 84th minute, scoring with a scissors kick after Mark Wilson had played the ball into his path.

A delighted Wilkinson said: "The lads have a lack of fear about them and they've got skill which they are not afraid to express.

"They also did well tactically and at half-time changed things and it worked well."


England U-21: Kirkland, Young, Bramble, Terry, Naylor, Davis, Dunn, Prutton, Christie, Ameobi, Defoe. Subs: Wright, Bywater, Cadamarteri, Riggott, Martin Taylor, Pennant, Vernazza, Benjamin, Wilson, Bothroyd, Stuart Taylor, Upson.

Mexico U-21: Navarrete, Reynoso, Mascorro, Isella, Duran, Hernandez, Castro, Perez Rojas, Marquez, L Gonzalez, Jorge Garcia. Subs: Coronoa, Sanchez, A Gonzalez, Juan Garcia, Meza, Bravo, Aguayo.

Referee: M McCurry (Scotland)

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21 May 01 |  Champions League
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