Rashford nets hat-trick on debut

Marcus Rashford scored a hat-trick on his England Under-21 debut as Gareth Southgate’s side saw off Norway Under-21s 6-1 in their Euro 2017 Qualifier in Colchester.

Manchester United star, Rashford, scored against the run of play with a neat finish inside the area in the first half, meaning he has now scored on both his senior debut and Under-21 debut for England.

Chelsea’s Nathaniel Chalobah added a second moments later with a volley from six yards, before his club team-mate Ruben Loftus-Cheek swept home a fine third.

Rashford’s deflected effort then looped into the top corner on 66 minutes, and though Ghayas Zahid grabbed a headed consolation, the 18-year-old completed his hat-trick with a penalty moments later.

Lewis Baker, on loan at Vitesse from Chelsea, hooked home a sixth late on, and the result means England go back to top spot in Group 9 with two games remaining, two points ahead of second-place Switzerland.
Rashford battles for the ball with Mohamed Elyounoussi
Rashford battles for the ball with Mohamed Elyounoussi

Rashford, 18, was making his first start for England Under-21s, while Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard started for the opposition at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Norway started the brightest, forcing Angus Gunn into a string of early saves. First, Mohamed Elyounoussi was denied at the near post as Gunn beat away his fierce effort, before the Manchester City stopper was at it again, denying the same player with a fine save to his right from an effort inside the area.

Moments later Gunn was at his best to deny Iver Fossum, whose near post header from Odegaard’s cross was parried away at point-blank range.

Despite their early dominance, Norway were behind just before the half-hour mark. Rashford, racing on to a deflected through ball from Chalobah, poked the ball past Sondre Rossbach into the bottom right corner from inside the area.

It was 2-0 eight minutes before the break, Chalobah volleying home from close range for his first Under-21 goal after James Ward-Prowse’s sumptuous free-kick from the right.

Rashford was denied at close range by Rossbach after the break, before Loftus-Cheek got the goal his performance deserved on 64 minutes, curling home into the bottom corner from Nathan Redmond’s square ball to start a period of four goals in eight minutes.

Rashford got his second and England’s fourth two minutes later, seeing his effort from inside the area deflect and curl into the top corner, before Norway substitute Zahid headed in a neat consolation at the near post.

England were awarded a penalty on 72 minutes as Rashford’s cross was handled by Thomas Grogaard, and usual penalty taker Ward-Prowse stepped aside to allow him to convert for his third goal of the game.

Redmond hit the post later in the half with a left-footed drive from 30 yards, and Baker completed the rout with four minutes remaining, directing Ward-Prowse’s corner into the bottom right corner with a fine finish.

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