Wickham fires England winner

by Stuart Vose

Young Lions take huge step towards qualification.

Sunderland’s Connor Wickham helped England’s under-21s take a huge step towards qualification for the European Championships last night.

Wickham scored the only goal as the Young Lions defeated Norway at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium in their final Euro 2013 qualifying group game.

Defender Danny Rose, on loan from Spurs, also featured, playing the full 90 minutes.

Group leaders England had started the match two points clear of the Norwegians and duly clinched top spot thanks to Wickham’s goal.

They will now be seeded in the draw for the upcoming play-offs ahead of next summer’s tournament, which will be held in Israel.

Wickham, who partnered former Sunderland striker Martyn Waghorn up front for England, scored the only goal when the two combined to deadly effect just before the break.

Waghorn intelligently intercepted a pass and slipped the ball to Wickham, who finished well from seven yards for the winner.

Meanwhile John Egan started for the Republic of Ireland’s under-21s as they ended their qualifying campaign with a fine 4-2 in Italy.

The Irish had already been eliminated but produced a confident display to win comfortably in Casarano.