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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 8, 2007

Pearce proud of Agbonlahor's fine display

England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce hailed the cutting edge of Gabriel Agbonlahor after his striker led the way in a 3-0 win against Montenegro.

Pearce's youngsters got their Euro 2009 campaign off to the perfect start by winning in Podgorica, with Nedum Onuoha, Agbonlahor and Andrew Surman getting on the scoresheet.

Montenegro, in the first competitive match they have hosted since independence, had their moments but had no answer to the pace of Agbonlahor, Theo Walcott, Matt Derbyshire and James Milner.

'We always feel we have enough in the front four, with their pace, and Gabby is a real handful,' said Pearce. 'He gives us that cutting edge that we have.'

Thankfully there was no repeat of the racial abuse England players suffered against neighbouring Serbia over the summer, although goalkeeper Joe Hart had objects thrown at him.

The UEFA delegate was made aware of the situation by Football Association representatives and is likely to include it in his report, but Pearce did not want the matter to overshadow victory.

'He's delighted he's got a clean sheet,' said Pearce.

Onuoha got the ball rolling by heading in after Agbonlahor nicked the ball over goalkeeper Ivan Janjusevic, then the Villa forward added a second in the 10th minute.

South Africa-born Surman came off the bench for his debut and tapped home in stoppage time after Dexter Blackstock headed in his path.

'It was a good workmanlike performance, we're delighted with the result,' Pearce added. 'Montenegro will cause people problems in the group, that's for sure.'

Pearce feels his squad are already maturing after playing in front of a feisty home crowd. Next is Tuesday's clash against Bulgaria in Sofia.

'It was a difficult place to come to,' he added. 'It was a passionate crowd who care about their football. The more my players play together in different conditions, the better they will get.

'We've done half a job, we go to Bulgaria and that is all we are focused on.'

Pearce also was pleased to get a big weekend for English sport up and running, with the seniors facing Israel at Wembley.

'Steve (McClaren) would have seen the result and he would have been pleased,' Pearce said.

Montenegro coach Dusan Vlaisavljevic felt his side were second best throughout.

He said: 'Their players play in the best league in Europe. We started the match badly like we did in Bulgaria but while we were lucky there and won we weren't against England.'

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