Eddie Nketiah became England Under-21s’ record scorer as the Young Lions booked their spot at Euro 2021.
The Arsenal striker scored his 14th goal in just 12 games to seal a 2-1 win over Turkey, having missed an earlier penalty.
It was a nervy victory for England, though, and they needed Aaron Ramsdale to save Halil Dervisoglu’s spot-kick after the forward’s awful dive.
Record breaker. History maker. Eddie Nketiah.— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 13, 2020
Huseyin Turkmen’s own goal opened the scoring for the Young Lions, who extended their unbeaten run in European qualifiers to 43 games despite Dervisoglu’s late consolation.
Aidy Boothroyd’s side top Group Three and rubber-stamped their place in Hungary and Slovenia next year with two matches to spare.
The Young Lions dropped their first points of qualifying when they were held to a surprise draw in Andorra last week but it was a much-changed, and stronger side, who initially dominated Turkey at Molineux.
Everton’s new £25million defender Ben Godfrey returned along with Callum Hudson-Odoi, James Justin and Jude Bellingham among eight changes.
And it was Leicester’s Justin who carved the visitors apart for England’s opener after 17 minutes.
His perfect pass dissected the Turkey defence to allow Ryan Sessegnon to break free. The Tottenham wideman, on loan at Hoffenheim, cut in from the left and his cross was deflected in by Turkmen.
Nketiah then thought he had his record goal after tapping in when Josh Dasilva hit the post but was rightly ruled offside. The striker had equalled Alan Shearer and Francis Jeffers’ records with his effort in the 3-3 draw in Andorra.
The hosts were comfortable, with Hudson-Odoi and Bellingham impressing, but Ramsdale was forced to into a smart save when he turned away Ahmet Canbaz’s 20-yard drive before the break.
It was just the start of the goalkeeper’s night as he protected the Young Lions’ lead in the second half.
England have not been beaten in a European qualifier since losing 2-1 to Belgium nine years ago but Turkey gave them a scare.
Ramsdale had to beat away Dervisoglu’s fierce effort two minutes into the second half before he thwarted him again from the spot after 53 minutes.
Oliver Skipp’s sloppy backpass sold Ramsdale short and Dervisoglu reached the ball first. He toed the ball past the Sheffield United goalkeeper and took a couple of steps before embarrassingly going down.
Referee Willy Delajod somehow awarded the spot-kick, despite there being no contact, and justice was served when the Blades’ number one saved Dervisoglu’s poor penalty low to his left.
Ramsdale then denied Cemali Sertel from close range after the defender robbed a dawdling Hudson-Odoi in the area.
Aside from Nketiah again being denied by an early offside flag before Turkey’s penalty England rarely threatened as they dug in.
Dervisoglu curled over and Nketiah had a golden chance for his 14th goal when Justin was felled by Serkan Asan in the box with seven minutes left.
The Arsenal striker’s penalty hit the post but he did not have to wait long for his record strike, making amends by clipping in after being sent through by Sessegnon with two minutes remaining.
Dervisoglu did make it 2-1 in injury time but England held on.
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