Callum Hudson-Odoi became the youngest-ever Chelsea player to represent England as the Three Lions eased to a 5-0 victory over Czech Republic, and elsewhere Olivier Giroud scored his 34th international goal for France.
Eighteen-year-old Hudson-Odoi was brought off the bench with 20 minutes to go and in doing so made history as our youngest English international, beating the record held by Glen Johnson. Ray Wilkins and Jimmy Greaves are the other two Chelsea teenagers to have represented the Three Lions at senior level.
It continues a remarkable rise to the top for Hudson-Odoi, who has 19 Chelsea appearances and five goals this term. He was only named in the senior squad on Monday having earlier in March received his maiden Under-21 call-up. At Wembley tonight he played a part in England’s fifth goal of five when his shot was parried, hit Tomas Kalas and went in.
He ended the game in pain having been unfortunately caught off the ball, but was okay to continue for the closing stages and celebrate a wonderful evening.
England had actually started slowly in their first Euro 2020 qualifier, but the introduction of Ross Barkley for the injured Eric Dier in the 17th minute immediately injected some urgency and creativity into their play. Seven minutes after our midfielder’s introduction, Barkley’s neat flick round the corner initiated a move between the front three that was finished off from close range by Raheem Sterling.
On the stroke of half-time Sterling won a penalty, with Kalas one of the two Czech defenders to sandwich the Man City forward. Harry Kane finished from the spot.
The Czechs, for whom Kalas played the full game, created a couple of set-piece opportunities early in the second half, but before long England were back on top and they extended their lead on the hour through Sterling’s clinical finish.
It was 4-0 shortly after when Barkley drove from deep and found Sterling wide left. He cut in and saw his shot deflected past Jiri Pavlenka to complete his treble.
It proved to be his last involvement as Hudson-Odoi came on with 70 minutes played and took up a position on the left of the front three.
Our youngster was quickly in the thick of things, and forced Pavlenka into a punched save after creating space for a shot, before he had a hand in England's fifth goal of a very satisfying evening for Gareth Southgate and his squad. Their next assignment is in Montenegro on Monday.
Elsewhere tonight, world champions France had no difficulties against minnows Moldova in Chisinau, racing into a three-goal lead by half-time. Antoine Griezmann and Raphael Varane had already netted by the time Giroud turned in Blaise Matuidi’s cross on 36 minutes.
The striker had a couple of headed opportunities as well, while N’Golo Kante, deployed in a two-man midfield next to Paul Pogba, completed the full game. Kylian Mbappe struck a fourth late on before Moldova registered a consolation to make it 4-1. Giroud was withdrawn in the 81st minute. Kurt Zouma was an unused sub.
In Nigeria earlier today, Kenneth Omeruo played the full game as the Super Eagles closed their African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign with a 3-1 victory over Seychelles at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba. They had already guaranteed their progression to this summer’s tournament in Egypt, and will discover their group stage opponents when the draw is made on 12 April.
Ola Aina was unavailable through injury, and Victor Moses has retired from international duty.
At Under-21 level, Jared Thompson made a number of good saves as Northern Ireland defeated Bulgaria 1-0 in Spain for their fourth straight success. The keeper is currently on loan at Warrenpoint United in Northern Ireland, who next take on Mexico in Marbella on Monday.
In Dubai, Clinton Mola played the full game as England's Under-18s were defeated by Czech Republic in the UAE Sports Chain Cup.