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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Rodwell stars as England beat Uzbekistan

Fabio Capello witnessed a man of the match performance from Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell as England Under-21s overcame their Uzbekistan counterparts in a one-sided 2-0 friendly win at Ashton Gate.

The England head coach has called up Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs from the Under-21s for Wednesday's meeting with Hungary at Wembley. But he must have been impressed by the showing of stand-in skipper Rodwell who left the pitch to a standing ovation when replaced by Henri Lansbury after 61 minutes.

Capello came in for criticism for failing to attend the England Under-19s games during the European Championships in France last month. But he watched proceedings alongside goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence and Football Association director of development Trevor Brooking before leaving his seat after 83 minutes.

It will be one of the few chances Capello will have to watch the Under-21s in action as their matches will be on the same night as the senior squad from September for the Euro qualifiers.

Capello was also able to take a first hand look at Blackburn keeper Frankie Fielding who has been called up for the Hungary game as a replacement for the injured Ben Foster. Fielding had a quiet evening and did not have a worthwhile save to make before being replaced by Alex McCarthy in the latter stages.

England's dominance paid off as Tottenham's Danny Rose broke the deadlock after 64 minutes with his second Under-21 goal. Sturridge's initial shot was blocked but Rose was quick to react and his low left-footed drive from 20 yards out flew into the corner of the net.

Uzbekistan squandered their best opportunity of the game when Islom Tuhtahujaev headed over from close range. England made sure of victory 11 minutes from time when another of their substitutes, Liverpool's Martin Kelly, headed in a centre from Kyle Walker.

Hal Robson-Kanu hit a late equaliser as Wales Under-21 warmed up for their final European Championship qualifiers with a 1-1 draw in Malta .

Reading forward Robson-Kanu struck eight minutes from time as Wales held their hosts in a season-opening friendly in Ta'Qali. Malta had led since striker Terence Vella opened the scoring in the 31st minute.

Noel King began his reign as Republic of Ireland Under-21 manager with an emphatic 5-0 victory over Estonia to end a miserable recent run.

Anthony Stokes struck the opener in the 15th minute, the 22-year-old rifling a right-foot shot past Marko Meerits from 15 yards after turning inside Aleksei Jahhimovits. Just before the half hour Stokes then cheekily chipped Meerits from the penalty spot after he had been brought down by Marek Kaljumae.

Stokes should have completed his hat-trick in the 55th minute, only to plant a header a yard over in meeting Owen Garvan's right-wing free-kick. But the man of the match brilliantly played a part in the three goals that followed for Wigan midfielder James McCarthy, Everton defender Seamus Coleman and Crystal Palace midfielder Garvan.


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