England U21 make winning start
Sears and Cattermole score in 2-1 victory
Last Updated: 04/09/09 6:01pm
Sears: Equalising goal
England Under 21s kicked off their new qualifying campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 victory in Macedonia.
Bidding to make it through to the 2011 European Championship, Stuart Pearce's youngsters had to come from behind after being stunned by Agim Ibraimi's opener in Prilep.
Freddie Sears drew England level midway through the second half and Lee Cattermole then sealed the three points with a late penalty.
Cattermole had a shot well-saved by Kristjian Naumovski early on, and soon afterwards he had an opening goal ruled out for offside.
Macedonia's Ibraimi tested Scott Loach with one free-kick; then in the 34th minute, he made no mistake in similar circumstances as he put his team in front.
Macedonia should have scored again when another Ibraimi free-kick was not dealt with and fell to Marko Ivanovski - whose shot was blocked by Loach.
Sears came on at half-time for Fabrice Muamba, but the first meaningful action was another important stop by Loach - this time from a shot by substitute Muzafer Ejupi.
Next, though, a Junior Stanislas corner was not cleared - allowing Danny Rose to head the ball into the path of Jack Rodwell. He flicked it on to Sears, who beat Naumovski from six yards to level the scores in the 68th minute.
Sears hit the side-netting with another effort shortly afterwards but England did not have to wait too long as they won a penalty on 83 minutes.
The big chance came when substitute Jack Wilshere was fouled in the area close to the byline - and Cattermole duly scored from the spot.
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying
Fri 4th Sep - Group Two
Armenia U211 - 3Switzerland U21
Fri 4th Sep - Group Nine
Macedonia U211 - 2England U21
Portugal U214 - 1Lithuania U21
Fri 4th Sep - Group Three
Bosnia U210 - 1Lux'bourg U21
Wales U212 - 1Italy U21
Fri 4th Sep - Group Six
Bulgaria U213 - 0Kaz'stan U21
Montenegro U210 - 2Sweden U21
Fri 4th Sep - Group Eight
Malta U210 - 1Belgium U21
Fri 4th Sep - Group Five
Germany U216 - 0San Marino U21
Czech R U212 - 0N Ireland U21
Fri 4th Sep - Group Four
Spain U212 - 0Poland U21
Holland U212 - 0Finland U21
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group One
|6||San Marino U21||9||4|
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Two
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Three
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Four
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Five
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Six
|4||Rep of Ireland U21||7||8|
|5||Faroe Islands U21||7||1|
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Seven
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Eight
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Nine
|5||N Ireland U21||7||3|
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Ten
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Eleven
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Twelve
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Thirteen
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Fourteen