Ugly scenes mar England Under 21s' play-off victory over Serbia
Last Updated: October 16, 2012 8:06pm
England Under 21s sealed their place at the European Championship with a 1-0 win over Serbia
England Under 21s booked their place at a fourth straight European Championship following a 1-0 victory in Serbia that ended in disgraceful scenes.
Stuart Pearce's side, leading 1-0 from the first leg, won by the same score in Krusevac thanks to a breakaway goal by Connor Wickham in the dying seconds.
But the game was then marred as missiles rained down from the crowd on the celebrating England team, while Danny Rose was sent off for an angry reaction as players and staff from both sides clashed.
The ugly scenes overshadowed another fine display of defensive resilience from England.
Marvin Sordell hit the post early on but, until Wickham came off the bench to stroke into an empty net late on, the game was largely about England's defensive effort.
Serbia had shown from the outset they intended to be more positive than they were in Norwich last week and, with Nikola Ninkovic coming into the side, they had a much greater cutting edge.
The hosts showed their danger as Nemanja Kojic found space down the right and pulled the ball back for the livewire Ninkovic, who shot tamely at Jack Butland.
Ninkovic turned provider as he picked out Filip Malbasic with a fine ball but England were relieved to see the substitute flagged offside after Ognjen Mudrinski took a needless touch, and held on for an impressive win.
It had been England who had the first serious opportunity as Sordell hit the woodwork after nine minutes.
Captain Jordan Henderson found the Bolton forward with a superb through-ball but Sordell cracked his shot against the near post after neatly cutting inside Slobodan Medojevic to create space 12 yards out.
Serbia goalkeeper Branimir Aleksic looked uncertain throughout but escaped punishment after spilling a Henderson corner and was then fortunate to earn a free-kick as Craig Dawson jumped to reach a Wilfried Zaha free-kick.
Luka Milivojevic flashed a volley wide after a Nemanja Gudelj throw-in was only partly cleared by Steven Caulker.
Serbia went closer as Henderson's headed clearance from Darko Lazovic's free-kick found its way to Ninkovic at the far post but his shot went across goal and wide.
Aleksic had another lucky escape as Dawson beat him to a Rose free-kick on the edge of the area but the England defender could not keep his header on target.
Lazovic found room on the edge of the England box but his attempt to curl a shot into the top corner was easily dealt with by Butland.
After a brief hold-up when one of several flares lit by Serbian fans found its way into Aleksic's goal area, the hosts continued to press as Ninkovic beat Adam Smith but fired wide from distance.
Further efforts came in from Kojic and Milivojevic as Serbia ended the first half on top but Butland was not tested.
England had a scare early in the second period as Kojic broke clear but Smith got back well to cut him off and was harshly booked for his trouble.
Ninkovic went close again after the ball fell to him outside the area but his swirling effort was well pushed put by Butland.
Thomas Ince broke clear as England mounted a rare attack but Zaha stumbled as he latched onto his cross and was bemused to be booked for diving.
Aleksic went forward as Serbia had a late chance from a free-kick but England broke away through Ince, who slid in Wickham, prompting the mayhem that followed.
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group One
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European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Two
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Three
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European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Six
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European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Seven
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Eight
European Under-21 Championship Qualifying Group Nine
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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