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Barker strikes twice as England u19s run rampant

Brandon Barker

Brandon Barker

A host of young City starlets have been in youth international action this week as club education is bolstered by experience in the international arena.

EDS winger Brandon Barker has been creating the headlines with a sensational display as part of England u19s' 8-0 thrashing of Luxembourg on Sunday. 

The City youngster scored twice and set up a third as the Young Lions ran riot in the second of three European Championship Qualifying fixtures, ensuring progression to the Elite Round of Qualifiers next Spring. Barker, who scored from the penalty spot after being tripped up in the box himself, later added his second with a perfectly-placed free kick. 

Speaking after the clash, the 17-year-old admitted he was "buzzing" with his first ever goals in an England shirt. 

He declared: "They were my first goals for England so I’m delighted. I was pleased to play a part in the first goal as well. It was a really good day overall.”

“It was a massive relief to get my goal because I thought it was never going to come. The free-kick was something I had been practising in training and I just kept missing. I thought it was about time one of them went in.

“I can’t think of any better feeling than scoring for England. I’m buzzing.”

City teammate Ashley Smith-Brown also started for the Young Lions against Luxembourg and both played the full 90 minutes earlier this week, when England's young hopefuls defeated Belarus 3-0 to get their qualifying campaign off to the best possible start.

The City pair both acquitted themselves well on that occasion and nearly combined to add a fourth, but the Belarus keeper thwarted Barker after he connected well to head Smith-Brown’s cross goalwards.  

England have one last fixture left to fulfill, against Belgium on Wednesday. 

Barker added: “We’re really looking forward to the Belgium game now. We all want to play. We’re not going to go into the game knowing we’ve already qualified. We want to win, we want to top the group and put down a marker.

“This is definitely the best England squad I’ve been a part of."

Sinan Bytyqi was also on the scoresheet for Austria u21s at the weekend - grabbing a debut goal in a friendly with DR Congo. After an influential display with Austria u19s in last summer's European Championships when he scored twice in four games, Bytyqi was rewarded with the step up to the u21s. 

His first half strike and the quality of his overall display certainly merited his inclusion as Austria ran out 3-0 victors. 

Meanwhile, Matthias Bossaerts captained Belgium u19s in their 3-2 triumph over Belarus which sealed their progress to the next round of European Championship qualifiers. The defender also played a full 90 minutes as the young Red Devils saw off Luxembourg 3-0 earlier in the week. 

The defender will be hoping to retain his place in a well-drilled back line and stop the free-scoring Barker when Belgium and England face off on Wednesday evening with the prize of first place in the group on offer to the victors. 

Elsewhere, John Guidetti, currently on loan at Celtic, was in action for Sweden u21s but unfortunately could not prevent his country from falling to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of France.

The striker already has three goals to his name in five appearances for the Scottish Champions.

Jack Byrne and Ian Lawlor started for Ireland u21s in a disappointing 4-1 loss to Norway.

Byrne, still just 18 years old and making his second appearance at this level for his country, played the full complement of minutes and had a decent opportunity to get on the scoresheet, but curled his effort narrowly over the top. Lawlor was replaced on the hour mark.

Academy keeper Kjetil Haug got 180 minutes under his belt for Norway u17s this week, starting both games between the posts in his country’s quest for qualification to the European Championships. The 16-year-old stopper is yet to concede a goal after Norway recorded a 4-0 demoltion of San Marino before beating Albania 3-0.

Now assured of progression to the Elite Qualifying Round, Norway face off against Austria in a battle for first place in the group.

EDS midfielder Olivier Ntcham was also in action for his native France, playing the first 67 minutes in a 2-1 victory over Macedonia. He was an unused sub in Saturday’s 6-0 rout of Liechtenstein, but could see further action when Les Bleus complete their trio of Euro qualifying fixtures against Bosnia.  

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