Young Lions draw to advance
Goalless draw sees Stuart Pearce's men through
Last Updated: 12/10/10 3:01pm
Daniel Sturridge tussles with Marius Gaman
England U21s held out for a 0-0 draw in Romania to qualify for next year's European Championship after a 2-1 aggregate triumph.
Stuart Pearce's Young Lions took a slender advantage into the second leg after a win at Carrow Road on Friday, and put in an impressive defensive display to advance to the Denmark finals.
Daniel Sturridge could have given them extra breathing space had he converted a one-one-one in the first-half, but it was a team effort in the end that saw them through.
Frank Fielding had a momentary hiccup when he fumbled a long-range effort but Romania were restricted to half-chances for the most part.
Qualification is no mean feat for a side which has seen many of the stars who reached the tournament's final just over a year ago graduate to the senior set-up.
England's first-leg lead meant they needed only to extend their unbeaten away record at U21 level, which dated back almost five years.
But there was no sign of them trying to keep it tight in an opening 15 minutes in which both sides could easily have gone in front.
Sabrin Sburlea set the tone in the first minute with a deflected 20-yard strike which Fielding tipped round the post.
Sburlea and Alexe both went close again and Fielding was almost caught in no man's land before England fashioned two decent chances of their own.
Chelsea striker Sturridge - the only change from Friday's win after Jack Wilshere joined the senior squad - forced a good stop from Silviu Lung and Phil Jones somehow failed to head Tom Cleverley's free-kick into the net.
But it was Sturridge who really should have scored just past the quarter-hour mark when he raced between two defenders to reach Danny Welbeck's through ball before scuffing his close-range finish too close to Lung.
Eric Bicfalvi almost bundled his way through five minutes later but Jones mopped up the danger.
Cleverley was unable to connect properly with Ryan Bertrand's fine 32nd-minute cross following a brief lull in the action.
Alexe wasted a glorious chance to put Romania ahead when he skied his left-foot finish from 12 yards after Fielding parried Gabriel Torje's dipping long-ranger.
Danny Rose was booked for handball and England captain Michael Mancienne followed suit soon after for holding Ioan Hora.
An unsighted Fielding was almost caught out by the resulting free-kick from Torje, the Blackburn keeper just turning it behind.
Fabrice Muamba was fortunate not to concede an early second-half penalty when a foul on Bicfalvi was deemed to have been outside the box.
Otherwise, England were looking far more solid than they had in the first period, restricting their opponents to speculative long-range strikes.
Sburlea had the best of them just after the hour mark, but Fielding was equal to it.
Romania immediately threw on Vlad Chiriches for Cornel Rapa, while England responded by introducing Henri Lansbury for Sturridge, who was booked for taking too long to leave the field.
Cleverley soon followed for a clumsy tackle on Torje, seconds before Fielding fumbled Sburlea's 30-yard shot, almost letting it squirm underneath him.
Raul Rusescu came on for Alexe and it was then Lung's turn to be nearly caught out when Cleverley's free-kick evaded everyone and the keeper parried it to safety.
Torje's corner caused chaos in the final seconds of injury-time but England survived.
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