Boothroyd satisfied after Young Lions’ unbeaten qualification campaign

Aidy Boothroyd expressed satisfaction after his England Under-21 side concluded their European Under-21 Championship qualification campaign unbeaten with a 2-0 win over their Scotland counterparts at Tynecastle.

The much-changed visitors had already qualified for next summer’s finals in Italy and San Marino with seven wins and two draws in their previous fixtures before they travelled to Edinburgh.

Boothroyd made 10 changes to the side which beat Andorra Under-21s 7-0 in their last match but they were still far too powerful and pacey for the hosts, albeit it took until the hour-mark to get the opener through a 30-yard free-kick from attacker Reiss Nelson before midfielder Kieran Dowell fired in a second in added time.

England, who have now qualified for seven successive tournaments, are 35 games unbeaten in the qualifiers.

Boothroyd said: “When we were organising the fixtures, I didn’t want to come here having to get something. I was pleased with the Andorra result.

“I wasn’t disappointed with what I saw from Scotland, always very tough opponents, always very difficult to play against and you are always worried they are going to get that goal on the counter attack and nick that goal.

“I thought it was an even game and two bits of real quality finished it off and won us the game which make us the league leaders.”

Boothroyd was somewhat surprised but grateful that Nelson, on loan to Hoffenheim from Arsenal, stepped up to send his free-kick past the helpless Scotland keeper Ross Doohan.

He said: “I was trying to get Dominic Solanki on it because I know he has a similar trick in his bag.

“But Reiss decided to take it. He is a confident young fellow and he has put it in the top corner, an unsaveable free-kick and when games are tight and you have someone who can do that, it makes a bit easier for us on the side.”

The young Scots’  hope of qualification ended with a 3-1 defeat against Ukraine in Kiev in their previous fixture and they remained in fourth place in Group D with 14 points from 10 games.

Boss Scot Gemmill stressed only the positives from the defeat against “some of the best players in national youth team competition”.

He said: “It was a great experience for the players. I think it is 14 out of the squad can play again (in next campaign).

“To play against players of that calibre, of that speed, is exactly what all of us want for our best young players.

“We don’t like to lose, like to concede goals but that is what they need, to see the speed of play, to see all the different aspects of the game – mentally, physically, tactically – is what the best players in the country need and it was great to have that experience today

“To take it to the last two games says a lot about our best young players. I am looking forward to carrying it on again and continuing this process.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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