England Under-21s kept alive their hopes of qualification for next summer's European Championships with a convincing 3-0 victory over Lithuania at Colchester.

Stuart Pearce's team had to win to stand a chance of securing one of the four best placed runners-up spots to make the play-offs for Denmark.

After a tense first half, a brace from Sunderland forward Danny Welbeck and a goal from Aston Villa youngster Marc Albrighton secured the victory which, given results elsewhere, secured England's passage to the play-offs.

The first decent opening for England came on 11 minutes when Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge dragged his shot wide after good work down the left by Ryan Bertrand, on loan at Nottingham Forest from Stamford Bridge.

Blackburn defender Phil Jones headed over a corner from Tom Cleverley, on loan at Wigan from Manchester United, before captain Michael Mancienne - another of the Chelsea youngsters, spending the season at Wolves - saw his long-range effort saved.

There was a let off for the home side on 35 minutes when a 25-yard free-kick from defender Mantas Fridrikas squirmed through the grasp of keeper Frank Fielding and hit the base of the post. Jack Wilshere was introduced at the start of the second half, replacing Kyle Walker and immediately England looked more assertive.

The breakthrough finally came after 61 minutes when Welbeck stroked the ball into the far corner after being played through the left side of the penalty area by Wilshere's fine pass.

England knew their play-off hopes could come down to goal difference, and so continued to press. Sturridge saw his neat finished ruled out by the offside flag as the game entered the final 20 minutes, before Welbeck looped his header onto the roof of the net.

The pace of Welbeck soon opened up Lithuania again and his angled shot was almost bundled into the net by a combination of keeper and defender, before, with 11 minutes left, Albrighton stabbed the ball home at the far post.

Welbeck wrapped up victory when he scored his second in stoppage time.

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Topics:
#Colchester United
#Marc Albrighton
#Sunderland
#Football
#Blackburn Rovers
#League One
#Chelsea
#Phil Jones
#Danny Welbeck
#Manchester United
#Nottingham Forest
#Daniel Sturridge
#Stuart Pearce
#Wigan Athletic
#Michael Mancienne
#Aston Villa
#Jack Wilshere
#Wolverhampton Wanderers
#Kyle Walker
#Ryan Bertrand
#Frank Fielding
#Tom Cleverley