Young Lions hold on for Norway win

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England took a stranglehold on European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group Eight after holding on to beat Norway 2-1 in Drammen.

Like their senior counterparts in Montenegro on Friday, England raced into a 2-0 lead, prolific defender Craig Dawson and captain Jordan Henderson both scoring inside seven minutes.

The dangerous Valon Berisha pulled one back midway through the first half but, unlike Montenegro, Norway failed to equalise, wasting more than one opportunity to do so.

Stuart Pearce's Young Lions maintained their 100% start to the new campaign and ended that of their opponents to put them firmly on course to qualify for a fourth successive finals. The result left England on nine points, three clear of Norway ahead of next month's double-header against Iceland and Belgium.

Any fears about how England, who handed debuts to Peterborough's Ryan Bennett and Blackburn's Jason Lowe, would adapt their opponents' synthetic 4G pitch were quickly dispelled when Dawson powered home what is fast becoming a trademark header from Henri Lansbury's corner inside three minutes.

It was the West Brom defender's third goal in just four under-21 starts and it got better for the visitors four minutes later when Henderson pounced on Ross Barkley's centre to make it 2-0.

But England soon surrendered the initiative and were made to pay in the 23rd minute when Nathan Baker - in for the injured Matthew Briggs - failed to deal with a ball over the top, allowing Berisha to tuck home Markus Henriksen's cross.

The visitors suffered another blow when Dawson was forced off for almost 10 minutes after a clash of heads left blood streaming down his face. Baker cleared a Havard Nordtveit effort off the line before Dawson eventually returned, sporting a Terry Butcher-style bandage.

England withdrew Barkley for Gary Gardner early in the second half but they were unable to re-establish their early dominance.

More substitutions followed for both sides and one of them thought he had set up the equaliser in the 80th minute but Markus Pedersen somehow scuffed Yann Erik De Lanlay's cutback from just six yards. There was some last-ditch defending in the closing moments as Norway poured forward but England kept them out.

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

Terry Butcher
West Bromwich Albion
Blackburn Rovers
Matthew Briggs
Jordan Henderson
Havard Nordtveit
Craig Dawson
Nathan Baker
Stuart Pearce
Ryan Bennett
Henri Lansbury

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