England U21 6 Macedonia U21 3: Carroll and Hines shine but Walcott limps off

10 October 2009 12:57
England Under-21s secured a crucial victory over Macedonia in a breathless encounter which saw Theo Walcott substituted at half-time with a dead leg.   [LNB]The Arsenal forward, whose participation for the Under-21s has been a bone of contention for Arsene Wenger in the past, was making only his second appearance since returning from a lower back injury.[LNB] Cool head: Theo Walcott goes round keeper Kristijan Naumovski to set up England's first goal[LNB]And his latest injury, albeit a minor one, may cause a small amount of further unrest at the Emirates, although Walcott's potential inclusion for the senior squad's clash against Belarus next Wednesday is now very much in doubt.   [LNB]A 20,074 crowd at the Ricoh Arena were treated to a thrilling European Championship qualifier as England were made to work hard for their three Group Nine points.   [LNB]Kieran Gibbs and Micah Richards put England in control before Muarem Muarem made it 2-1 at the interval.   [LNB]But a blistering start to the second half saw Macedonia make it 3-3 in the space of six minutes through Agim Ibraimi and a Gibbs own goal, with Andy Carroll netting for England.   [LNB]But, despite a fair share of nerves, Stuart Pearce's charges triumphed courtesy of another from Carroll and a brace from substitute Zavon Hines - on his debut.   [LNB] Clear head: Micah Richards directs his effort into the roof of the net[LNB]England's European Championship final defeat in Sweden over the summer marked the end of a two-year cycle for head coach Pearce, with just four players starting at the Ricoh from the side that lost 4-0 to Germany.   [LNB]Both sides made a solid start to the encounter with Ibraimi the first to test goalkeeper Scott Loach with a stinging free-kick that the Watford man safely parried away for a corner.   [LNB]England started to grab a foothold on the game somewhat as the first quarter wore on but Macedonia were more than willing to commit men forward themselves.   [LNB]The midfield quartet of Jack Wilshere, Danny Rose, Jack Rodwell and Tom Cleverley looked more than at ease as they worked the ball around - and the latter two combined for England's opener after 22 minutes.  [LNB] Cleverley did extremely well to keep Rodwell's crossfield pass in play as he hugged the touchline, before playing a through-ball for Walcott.  [LNB] All white: England's Kieran Gibbs (right) celebrates with Theo Walcott (left) after scoring the opening goal[LNB] And the England number 10 lofted a perfect ball to the back post where Gibbs was on hand to head home.   [LNB]The young lions only had to wait eight minutes for a second. The classy Wilshere floated a corner to the near post for Michael Mancienne to flick on - and Richards nodded past Kristijan Naumovski.  [LNB] Loach did well to save from Ibraimi for a second time before Macedonia grabbed a lifeline in the 42nd minute.  [LNB] Muarem fired in a low free-kick from the left side of the penalty area and, despite the best efforts of Betim Aliju, the ball appeared to go untouched before beating Loach.   [LNB]  West Ham youngster Hines came on at half-time for the injured Walcott.  [LNB] In the 52nd minute Mancienne slipped before making a complete hash of his attempted interception, allowing the lively Ibraimi to level matters.  [LNB] England were back in front just two minutes later, though, as Carroll flicked Gibbs' near-post cross over Naumovski.   [LNB]Thebreathtaking second half continued when the visitors made it 3-3 in the58th minute. Ibraimi whipped a vicious corner into the penalty area andas the ball was knocked goalwards, Gibbs - who was standing on thegoalline - put it into his own net. [LNB] Pearce must surely have been hugely alarmed at the kamikaze second-half performance from his side.   [LNB]Nevertheless, his charges regained their lead in the 67th minute courtesy of Hines.   [LNB]The 20-year-old latched onto Cleverley's through-ball before putting his finish between the legs of Naumovski, before Carroll and Hines put the gloss on the scoreline in the closing stages. [LNB] [LNB]  

Source: Daily_Mail