England Under-21 1, Serbia Under-21 0
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England will take a slender lead to Serbia after their European Championships play-off first-leg victory at Carrow Road on Friday night.
Craig Dawson’s 66th minute penalty proved the difference, after Luke Milunovic brought down Adam Smith just inside the area as Serbia struggled to clear their lines.
And the West Bromwich Albion centre-back drilled confidently past Branimir Aleksic to produce the loudest moment of the night from an excellent 17,266 early evening Carrow Road crowd.
A restrained first half saw England with the lion’s share of possession and Blackpool forward Tom Ince with two cracking chances – firstly flicking a free header wide from Raheem Sterling’s centre, before his heavy touch saw a one-on-one chance with Serbia goalkeeper Branimir Aleksic disappear.
In fact, despite the timid nature of the first 45 minutes it was the three bookings in the opening seven minutes that provided its major talking point.
Lively Hoffenheim winger Filip Malbasic was at the heart of Serbia’s best first-half moments, while Luka Milunovic headed over the visitors’ best chance from a matter of yards under heavy pressure following Darko Lazovic’s cross from the right.
But in the end, Dawson’s spot kick was enough and the two sides meet again for the second leg of their European Championships play-off in Kusevac, Serbia on Tuesday evening as they bid to make next year’s finals.
• England U21 (4-2-3-1): Butland; Smith, Caulker, Dawson, Rose; Henderson (c), Rodwell (Lowe 46); Zaha, Ince, Sterling (Townsend 67); Sordell (Wickham 78). Unused subs: Steele, Bennett, Lees, McEachran, Townsend. Booking: Sterling. Goal: Dawson 66 pen.
• Serbia U21 (4-2-3-1): Aleksic; Gudelj, Medojevic (c), Pantic, Mladenovic; Markovic (Causic 67), Milivojevic; Lazovic (Kojic 80), Milunovic, Filip Malbasic (Jojic 60); Despotovic. Unused subs: Kirovski, Petrovic, Kosanovic, Mudrinski. Booking: Despotovic, Pantic, Mladenovic, Medojevic.
• Referee: Deniz Aytekin. Attendance: 17,266.