European U21 Championship holders England cruised to victory in their first step towards qualification for the 2025 tournament with a 3-0 win over Luxembourg.
Liam Delap, on loan at Hull from Man City, netted on his U21 debut to open the scoring by finishing off an intricate move from close range two minutes before half-time.
Callum Doyle followed suit on his U21 international bow, doubling their advantage on 58 minutes before Chelsea new boy Cole Palmer added a third, and his fifth for Lee Carsley’s Young Lions, shortly after.
The result puts England top of Group F, ahead of Luxembourg on goal difference, though three of the six teams in the group have yet to play their opening game.
How classy England began title defence in style
Only 65 days since Carsley’s side lifted the European U21 Championships trophy in Georgia, a new-look Young Lions team emerged in Luxembourg featuring only three of the line-up who started that 1-0 victory over Spain.
England had a frustrating first half in their opening Euro 2025 qualifier with their hosts, who beat Northern Ireland 1-0 last Thursday, making life difficult by defending deep and in large numbers.
Harvey Elliott twice went close to giving the Young Lions an early lead, with his close-range effort blocked before firing inches wide from outside the penalty area.
Juventus forward Samuel Iling-Junior blazed over from in front of goal and Nathan Wood headed straight at goalkeeper Eldin Latik.
Latik then saved Palmer’s low effort and Doyle headed narrowly off target as the chances mounted up.
Another goal-bound shot from Palmer was well saved, but Carsley’s side made the breakthrough just before the interval.
Palmer dissected the deep-lying Luxembourg defence with a neat through-ball and Delap applied a poacher’s finish.
Miguel Fernandes had Luxembourg’s first effort on target 10 minutes into the second period when his shot was saved by James Trafford.
The Young Lions doubled their lead in the 58th minute when City defender Doyle, on loan at Leicester, lashed home from inside the penalty area.
Palmer put the icing on an impressive individual display when he struck the goal of the game in the 67th minute, a superb first-time finish from substitute Jamie Bynoe-Gittens’ short pass.
Palmer saw another goal-bound effort well saved in the bottom corner before Trafford was forced to save from Lucas Correia’s effort.
England took their foot off the gas in the closing stages, but went close again through Doyle’s header and Palmer, who fired straight at Latik.
Luxembourg U21s’ next game is a Euro U21 2025 Qualifier against Ukraine in Esch-sur-Alzette on October 12 – kick-off TBC.
England U21’s next outing is against Serbia in a Euro U21 2025 Qualifier at the City Ground on October 12 – kick-off 7.45pm.