TOM Ince played the full 90 minutes as England’s Under-21s beat nearest rivals Norway 1-0 at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium last night to secure top spot in their European Championship qualifying group.
Results earlier in the day meant both sides had already booked their places in next month’s play-offs.
Blackpool winger Ince made his England debut against Azerbaijan last Thursday and was again in the thick of the action. He almost put England ahead on the hour-mark only to see his effort drift wide.
He’ll by back at Pool’s Squires Gate training ground tomorrow to prepare for Saturday’s trip to Barnsley.
Stuart Pearce’s side won last night courtesy of Connor Wickham’s strike two minutes before half-time.
It was one of few chances England created in a lacklustre contest and in the end the Young Lions made hard work of the victory, with Norway having the better of the second half. They were unlucky not to equalise when Havard Nielsen’s effort struck the underside of the crossbar.
Pearce made five changes from the side that started Thursday’s 2-0 win.
Blackpool’s Ince looked like he would put England ahead when he sneaked in between the Norwegian defence and keeper on the half-hour mark.
The Blackpool star managed to clip the ball goalwards past Ostbo but it rolled off target.
Wickham showed Ince how it was done after 43 minutes.
The Sunderland striker latched onto a defensive mistake and, bearing down on goal, tucked away his chance well from close-range. It was the 19-year-old’s first goal since October last year.
Norway almost caught England out again in the 73rd minute. Omar Elabdellaoui broke clear and flicked the ball wide to Mushaga Bakenga but his cross-shot was diverted over for a corner.
Man of the match Danny Rose joined Jonjo Shelvey in collecting a needless yellow card after kicking the ball away as England withstood some more late pressure.