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Mar 21, 2013

Zaha singled out for praise

England Under-21s coach Brian Eastick singled Wilfried Zaha out for praise after his man-of-the-match performance against Romania.

Zaha, 20, scored his first goal for the Young Lions in some style this evening, curling home after ghosting past a number of defenders.

Zaha's goal kicked off a 3-0 win against an admittedly poor Romanian side, who struggled to cope with the attacker at Wycombe's Adams Park.

The Crystal Palace man's strike was complemented by efforts from substitutes Jack Robinson and Nathan Delfouneso in Buckinghamshire, although there was only one star of the show.

"He is a very talented player and everybody knows that," coach Eastick, speaking instead of manager Stuart Pearce, said of Zaha.

"Obviously playing up front again tonight like he did against Sweden has given us another option. I thought the front three players and Jonjo Shelvey playing in behind them were very fluent tonight. Even though Romania had 10 or 11 players behind the ball, we caused them quite a few problems."

Zaha is spending the rest of the season in the Championship with Palace, before linking up with Manchester United in the summer.

Predominantly used as a winger, he was deployed as a lone frontman tonight and put in a far more assured performance in the role than against Sweden last month.

"He plays wide for Crystal Palace and it is slightly different role we are asking him to do," Eastick said. "Obviously in terms of international football, you need that flexibility. We don't want to be too mechanic, too robotic when we have possession of the ball.

"Having someone like Wilfried helps as he can play wide and he showed tonight can be really effective in those forward areas.

"I thought Jonjo Shelvey's performance tonight was really outstanding. I though when Wilfried came short into those pockets of space, Jonjo picked his timing of the runs really well and the movement from those two players was excellent.

"And of course the wide players were excellent as well so it has certainly given Stuart some options for Monday and also for the finals."

Zaha and Shelvey look certainties for Pearce's squad for the European Championships in Israel this summer, although some other spots are still up for grabs. The team play their final game on home soil ahead of the tournament against Austria on Monday and Eastick wants a similar level of performance to tonight.

"It was comfortable," Eastick said. "I thought we played some really excellent football. We had a lot of possession of the ball and I thought early on they tried to press us, but with the quality of our football they dropped off and defended very deep.

"Sometimes when teams bank up against you like that, it is not always easy. But I thought some of the quality of football was outstanding and it was a very pleasing performance.

"It has given Stuart the opportunity to look at a variety of players. I think in his own mind he is pretty sure of who 16 or 17 of the core group will be for Israel, but there are obviously still a few places up for grabs.

"It is an opportunity for players tonight and on Monday against Austria to try to grab some of those players. Let's hope he has a selection problem and we perform like that again."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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