Young Lions roar in final friendly

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A superb solo goal from Danny Rose helped England cruise to victory in their final friendly before the European Under-21 Championships against Norway.

Stuart Pearce's Young Lions showed their senior counterparts the way to beat supposedly lesser opposition less than 24 hours after Fabio Capello's men stuttered to a 2-2 Euro 2012 qualifying draw against Switzerland.

Daniel Sturridge put England ahead inside nine minutes and Rose struck a brilliant second five minutes before the break.

The home side should have added further goals in the second half after making a raft of substitutions, with Pearce's understudies threatening to steal the show. Several of his youngsters will travel to the finals in Denmark looking to stake a claim in Capello's ageing squad and they will be expected to do well despite the controversial withdrawal of Jack Wilshere from the squad, as well as injuries to Andy Carroll and Micah Richards.

Head coach Pearce picked virtually his strongest possible side under the circumstances, only the second time he had been able to do so since qualification for this month's finals had been secured. That previous time had yielded a 4-0 thrashing of the tournament hosts and a similar result looked on the cards when Sturridge put England ahead inside nine minutes.

Jordan Henderson clipped a lovely pass into the path of Ryan Bertrand, who scuffed the ball goalward, with Sturridge on hand to poke home. The Chelsea striker then sent in a lovely cross which just evaded Henderson and captain Michael Mancienne flicked a Rose corner wide as England continued to attack in bursts. Blackburn goalkeeper Frankie Fielding got fingertips to Valon Berisha's deflected drive after 20 minutes.

Norway also threatened through Harmeet Singh and the lively Flamur Kastrati and England began to lose their way. The visitors, who were nowhere near qualifying for this month's finals in Denmark, were matching their opponents, with Berisha again going close. But that changed in spectacular fashion when Rose burst forward down the left before cutting inside two defenders and unleashing a superb right-foot curler into the top corner.

With next Sunday's tournament Group B opener against Spain in mind, Pearce rang the changes at half-time, sending on Tom Cleverley, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Cork, Marc Albrighton and Henri Lansbury. He also experimented with a 4-3-3 formation, with Sturridge the spearhead. And the striker almost scored an inspirational third five minutes after the restart, turning his marker and firing a right-foot drive from the tighest of angles.

Chris Smalling powered over a header from a corner, Albrighton curled too close to Arild Ostbo, and Mancienne forced an athletic stop from the keeper from fully 35 yards. The understudies were threatening to steal the show but there was a warning when Fielding fumbled a long-range Singh drive.

Sturridge fired an Albrighton cross into the side-netting before being withdrawn for Nathan Delfouneso, with Norway soon responding by replacing Remi Johansen and Berisha for Stian Ringstad and Alexander Tveter. The home side made another change when James Tomkins came on for Phil Jones. Mushaga Backenga came on for Kastrati before Fielding preserved his clean sheet by beating away a Singh drive and comfortably holding a Tveter shot.

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

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Chris Smalling
Marc Albrighton
Kieran Gibbs
Blackburn Rovers
Danny Rose
Jordan Henderson
Phil Jones
James Tomkins
Daniel Sturridge
Stuart Pearce
Nathan Delfouneso
Micah Richards
Jack Cork
Michael Mancienne
Jack Wilshere
Henri Lansbury
Ryan Bertrand
Tom Cleverley

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