England Under-21s went goal crazy as they produced a stunning display to crush Serbia 9-1. The Chelsea forward Noni Madueke, debutant Jaden Philogene and Harvey Elliott all scored twice at the City Ground.
Liam Delap, Jonathan Rowe and Luka Subotic’s own goal heaped further misery on Serbia as England came from behind in their first home game since winning Euro 2023.
Despite dominating the match, they had to hit back after Vladimir Lucic’s classy strike gave Serbia the lead in the Euro U21 2025 qualifier. Victory made it two wins from two in Group F before Monday’s game against Ukraine in Slovakia.
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The England Under-21 manager, Lee Carsley, picked from a new-look squad with only six of his European champions featuring as the majority of the class of 2023 are now ineligible.
His team should have been cruising inside 10 minutes but Charlie Cresswell planted a free header wide after Philogene’s effort was turned over by Veljko Ilic. The Serbia goalkeeper then gathered a tame effort from Elliott and continued to deny the hosts, a reaction stop keeping out Philogene at the far post.
Madueke pulled the strings, the forward teasing the overworked Serbia defence, but he should have done better after dragging wide after a neat exchange with Hayden Hackney. Carsley’s side dominated, Elliott shooting over, but they were shocked by Serbia after 27 minutes.
Lucic started the move on the left and when Nikola Stankovic was played in behind Hackney, he found Lucic who brilliantly guided a first-time shot into the top corner from 16 yards. It was a stunning finish and checked England’s early momentum.
Harvey Elliott scores England Under-21s’ third goal as they overcame an early scare. Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images/Reuters
The hosts were briefly cautious as they sized their opponents up again but Delap should have levelled nine minutes before the break. Instead his effort gave Ilic the chance to save with his legs.
Yet two minutes later England equalised as Philogene marked his debut by smashing in high from the edge of the box after being given the ball by Ilic. Elliott went close before England got the second goal they deserved after 41 minutes when the captain, Cole Palmer, was thwarted by Ilic but Philogene recycled the ball to find Delap who crashed in from five yards.
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It opened the floodgates and Elliott added a third when he collected the ball, advanced and arrowed a strike into the top corner. Eight minutes after the break Madueke got the goal he warranted when he danced across the Serbia defence and drilled in low.
It was now a procession, with Serbia resorting to needless fouls to halt England’s rhythm, but they could do nothing to stop Madueke’s second. Hackney was allowed to run and slip the ball into Rico Lewis whose backheel found Madueke to roll into the corner. England continued to pile on the pain and Philogene scored his second, Delap unselfishly squaring to his Hull teammate after Lewis put him clear.
The scoreline reflected the gulf in quality and Cresswell and James McAtee went close to adding a seventh before Elliott hit the crossbar. It was left to Serbia to add to their own pain as, under pressure from Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, Mitar Ergelas’s clearance clattered off Subotic and looped over Ilic with three minutes left.
There was still time for substitute Rowe to grab a debut goal, the Norwich forward heading in Elliott’s cross from close range. Then, in stoppage time, Elliott added the flourish with a ninth goal, seizing on Igor Miladinovic’s wretched pass to complete the thrashing.