Welbeck shines in England success

England 3-0 Lithuania
Danny Welbeck scored two and set up the other as the 2009 finalists booked a play-off spot.

Danny Welbeck (left) celebrates his second and England's third with Jordan Henderson
Danny Welbeck (left) celebrates his second and England's third with Jordan Henderson ©Getty Images

England secured their place in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs as one of the four best runners-up thanks to a comfortable defeat of Lithuania.

Needing a victory to stand a chance of progressing, the hosts made a prolonged period of pressure tell just after the hour mark when substitute Jack Wilshere set up Danny Welbeck. Another replacement, Marc Albrighton, made the points safe in the 79th minute before the impressive Welbeck struck his second late on.

England fashioned the first of what would turn out to be many chances on 11 minutes when Daniel Sturridge – scorer of the winner against Portugal on Friday – dragged a shot wide from Ryan Bertrand's left-wing cross.

Captain Michael Mancienne then tested Vytautas Černiauskas and Danny Rose fired over having been teed up by Welbeck, yet for all of the hosts' pressure, Mantas Fridrikas came within the width of a post of giving Lithuania the lead with a low free-kick which Frank Fielding fumbled on to the upright.

That aside, Stuart Pearce's team had been building up a head of steam as the first period ended, and they were quickly on the offensive after the restart with Rose having a shot deflected over and Sturridge bending a shot wide. The chances kept coming and, following Černiauskas's save from Sturridge, the breakthrough arrived when an incisive pass from Wilshere found Welbeck, who slotted across goal into the far corner.

Welbeck then turned provider with a low ball which Albrighton swept in at the far post, and eased in number three in added time following a neat flick into his path from Sunderland AFC team-mate Jordan Henderson.