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BBC Five Live's Alan Biggs
reports from the Riverside
 real 14k

Thursday, 31 August, 2000, 22:21 GMT 23:21 UK
Classy England hit Georgia for six
England vs Georgia U-21
England's Joe Cole takes the ball past Levan Gvazava of Georgia
England 6-1 Georgia

Howard Wilkinson's young England side turned on the style as they romped to a comprehensive victory over a stunned Georgia side at the Riverside.

After England's dismal failure in the European Championships in Slovakia during the summer, it was vitally important that coach Wilkinson needed a victory going into the forthcoming round of qualification matches for the next tournament.

Defeats against Italy and the hosts just three months ago had given Wilkinson a distinctly unimpressive record of three losses from his seven games in charge.

So this was a chance for a fresh start, particularly as the likes of Frank Lampard, Jamie Carragher, Lee Hendrie and Carl Cort are now all over age.

New boys

I think our teenagers are a match for anyone. I think at 16, 17 and 18, we have players who reasonably can compete on any stage with their counterparts of the same age
  Howard Wilkinson
Wilkinson named 12 uncapped players in his 24-man squad, with four - West Ham duo Adam Newton and Michael Carrick, Arsenal's Ashley Cole and Titus Bramble of Ipswich - starting the game.

And with the first of those qualifying games against Germany just five weeks away, Wilkinson can have cause for optimism as his group of burgeoning youngsters did him proud.

Joe Cole was the provider for the first three goals as England eventually ran riot towards the end of the first half after being given an initial scare when the visitors conjured up an equaliser.

The 18th minute opener saw Cole swing in a corner for Spurs defender Luke Young - who has never even scored for Tottenham - to meet with a downward header which keeper George Lomaia could only help on its way.


Klimenti Tsitaishvili then lofted a delightful chip over the advancing Paul Robinson before goals from (Ashley) Cole and Everton's Francis Jeffers in the 37th and 44th minutes for a 3-1 lead.

I got into the West Ham team on Saturday and now this game, and I'm looking to push on now and hopefully other things will come from that
  Joe Cole
The goal of the night then followed just moments later as skipper and Blackburn midfielder David Dunn ran at the Georgia defence before unleashing a delightful 15-yard right-foot curler beyond Lomaia.

Manchester United's Jonathan Greening then curled home just after the hour beyond sub keeper Mirza Merlani, and then with the last kick of the match, Watford's Tommy Smith added gloss to a wonderful win.

England U21: Robinson, Newton, A. Cole, Carrick, Young, Bramble, Greening, Dunn, Vassell, J. Cole, Jeffers. Subs: Stockdale, Smith, Hargreaves, Wright, Carlisle, Parker, Thirwell, Naylor, Prutton, Chadwick, Campbell.

Georgia U21: Lomaia, Sajaia, Khizaneishvilli, Tzereteli, Mujiri, Abramidze, Kvaratskhelia, Digmelashvili, Imedadze, Tskitishvili, Gvazava. Subs: Merlani, Gagua, Devidze, Shengelia, Ebralidze, Shashiashvili, Burduli.

Referee: T Hauge (Norway)

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