Football

Pearce hails 'gutsy' Young Lions

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Head coach Stuart Pearce hailed his "gutsy" England players after watching them seal a hat-trick of UEFA Under-21 Championship finals appearances with a tense play-off victory over Romania.

England ground out a goalless draw in the second leg of their tie in Botosani, sealing a 2-1 aggregate success and booking a place at next summer's tournament in Denmark.

"We didn't play extremely well. What we did show was determination and it was a really gutsy performance, certainly from the goalkeeper," said Pearce.

"Right through the team, we showed guts and a few things were said at half-time in the dressing room and the players took that on board.

"We showed some more spirit in the second half of the match and we're just pleased to be here.

"The 10-day get-together was about getting two results to get to the finals.''

Goalkeeper Frank Fielding had an eventful afternoon, pulling off a number of fine reflex saves, but he also had an alarming tendency to rush off his line throughout the 90 minutes.

Pearce said of the Blackburn youngster: "He was fantastic. He's got a knack of keeping the ball out of the net and I think he only conceded one goal in six games.

"There were some really tricky shots with this ball - we know all about the ball - and they really peppered the goal.

"He kept his eye on everything and kept us a clean sheet, which is all you can ask of him. He's delivered and so has the rest of the team."

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