England maintained their perfect start in qualifying for the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship with a 3-0 win away to the Republic of Ireland.
Mark Noble scored twice in seven first-half minutes to set Stuart Pearce's side on their way to victory before James Milner added the third on 26 minutes as the Group 3 leaders won their fourth match in succession, still without conceding a goal. Both sides had chances in the early stages as the game started at a high tempo. Noble shot tamely at Darren Randolph when well placed before Anthony Stokes skipped through the England defence only for England goalkeeper Joe Hart to smother his shot.
The home side were threatening up front, but were let down at the back on ten minutes. Randolph came for a hanging cross from the left but was unable to gather the ball which fell for Noble who turned it into the unguarded net. Ireland were looking for their first points in the section but their hopes of getting something out of the game faded further seven minutes later. Gabriel Agbonlahor burst down the left and cut the ball back for Noble to sidefoot low into the goal. Milner added the third in fortuitous fashion on 26 minutes, turning beautifully in the area before shooting past Randolph courtesy of a big deflection that wrong-footed the goalkeeper.
The scoreline was harsh on the Republic of Ireland who were creating chances of their own. Hart dived at full stretch to tip Adam Rooney's shot away on 29 minutes as the home side pressed without finding a way through. The tempo eased after the restart though Noble continued to threaten, drawing a save from Randolph from the edge of the area with 57 minutes played. At the other end Stephen Quinn drew another fine save from Hart in the 72nd minute but the result by then was beyond doubt.