England U-21s vs Norway U-21s match report: Marcus Rashford makes a mockery of demotion from senior side
Marcus Rashford made a mockery of his inclusion in the England Under-21 squad on Tuesday evening by scoring a brilliant hat-trick in the 6-1 demolition of Norway in Colchester.
Manchester United youngster Rashford was surprisingly left out of Sam Allardyce’s senior squad last week, so made his first appearance for Gareth Southgate’s Under-21 side instead. But Rashford made immediately clear that he was too good for this level, with two clinical finishes and a cool penalty. The result puts England even closer to qualifying for the European Championship in Poland next season, but this match was all about one man.
Allardyce was in the stands at the Colchester Community Stadium, sat between assistant Sammy Lee and Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn. Two days after England laboured to an important but uninspiring 1-0 win over Slovakia, Rashford now gave an exhibition of the ability and mentality that has marked him out as the most talented youngster of his generation. Those skills, first shown for Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United last season, were enough to earn him a place in Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016. After this display he will surely be back with the seniors again soon enough.
Rashford’s first goal came when Nathaniel Chalobah’s pass deflected off Nathan Redmond and into his path. Running in behind, to the left of goal, Rashford opened his body and fired the ball into the bottom corner. Nathaniel Chalobah converted the second from a deep James Ward-Prowse free-kick, just before the break.
It was after half-time that England turned the screw on a Norway side who had actually dominated long stages of the first half. Two goals in two minutes doubled England’s lead, killing off the game entirely. First Ruben Loftus-Cheek converted a good passing move from the edge of the box before Rashford scored another excellent strike, shimmying between defenders and lifting the ball into the far top corner of the net, with thanks to a slight deflection.
Norway pulled one back through Ghayas Zahid but there was still time for Rashford to complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot. Confusing the Norwegian goalkeeper with his slow straight run-up, he sent him the wrong way, putting the ball into the top left hand corner of the net. Rashford was taken off to a standing ovation from the crowd, and watched gleefully from the bench as Lewis Baker made it six.