England youngsters draw blank

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England Under-21s squandered a host of chances but still claimed a vital European Championship qualifying point in a 0-0 draw with Lithuania in Vilnius.

The draw keeps Stuart Pearce's side in second place in Group Nine - just two points behind leaders Greece, who play Portugal later this evening.

Newcastle youngster Andy Carroll was guilty of missing a string of chances but may consider himself unfortunate after being denied by the woodwork twice.

England started brightly enough and Carroll almost gave them a dream start but he put his header just wide in the 11th minute. In the 20th minute Carroll's 20-yard shot beat Vytautas Cerniauskas but rebounded off an upright.

But a minute later England were forced to make a change when the injured Kieran Gibbs left the action to be replaced by Ryan Bertrand.

A minute before the interval, Carroll almost finished off a neat move but he volleyed Danny Rose's lofted pass across the face of the goal.

Pearce's side continued where they left at the start of the second-half and Fabrice Muamba's close-range shot flashed narrowly wide.

England should have gone ahead in the 50th minute when Tom Cleverley jinked through the Lithuanian defence and created a chance for Carroll. Unfortunately for Pearce's side, the Newcastle man side-stepped the goalkeeper but saw his shot crash against the crossbar.

In the final 25 minutes Pearce introduced West Ham striker Zavon Hines and Henri Lansbury in place of Muamba and Daniel Sturridge as England searched for a winner, but they failed to break the deadlock and the Lithuanians held on for a draw.

At Ballymena Showgrounds, Manchester United's promising midfielder Oliver Norwood emphasised his ability from dead-ball situations for the second successive European Championship qualifier, but it was not enough for Northern Ireland Under-21s to avoid a 2-1 defeat against their Czech counterparts.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Kieran Gibbs
Danny Rose
Manchester United
Fabrice Muamba
Daniel Sturridge
Stuart Pearce
Henri Lansbury
Ryan Bertrand
Tom Cleverley
Zavon Hines

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