England Under-21s hit for seven
England cruised past Azerbaijan 7-0 in their warm-up for the UEFA European Under-21 Championships, but the big surprise was goalkeeper Joe Lewis being brought on as a striker for the last 15 minutes at stadium:mk. Coach Stuart Pearce rested key players ahead of the tournament starting next week in Sweden and had two stoppers among his six replacements, with Lewis getting brought on for Lee Cattermole to prevent any injuries.
It was a bizarre end to a match England were in control of after Michael Mancienne's early strike, an own goal by goalkeeper Elchin Sadigov and a cool finish from Craig Gardner to establish a half-time lead at MK Dons' ground. Nodar Mammadov then diverted into his own net after the break and Kieran Gibbs added another two before Jack Rodwell's deflected shot provided the seventh.
Lewis is unlikely to get another game as an outfield player as Pearce will have the likes of Theo Walcott and James Milner back for their tournament opener against Finland next Monday. Those two were on seniors duty, while Micah Richards, Nedum Onuoha and Gabriel Agbonlahor rested knocks, but despite a lack of numbers the hosts were in control of the match from the first minute.
There were less than 60 seconds on the clock when Mancienne, the Chelsea youngster who was called into the seniors earlier in the season, struck. He fired in the rebound after James Tomkins, on his debut, saw his header hit the post from Adam Johnson's corner. After Mancienne's opener Fraizer Campbell could have scored another two, but had one ruled out for handball and another go wide after Gardner's free-kick was saved.
The second goal came in the 26th minute after Martin Cranie crossed, Campbell laid the ball back and Mark Noble's shot struck the post and went in off goalkeeper Sadigov. Gardner added the third five minutes later when he collected a 40-yard pass from Gibbs and volleyed home his finish.
The visitors almost pulled one back when Rauf Aliyev's ambitious effort on the touchline forced Joe Hart into a save, then Emin Jafarguliyev sliced horribly wide after latching onto a corner. But any hopes of a comeback were extinguished ten minutes after the interval.
Half-time substitute Andrew Taylor picked up the ball on the left and swung over a deep cross that Cattermole met, with Mammadov hacking into his own net. Sadigov made a series of saves to keep the score down, but he could do nothing about Gibbs adding the fifth with a first-time finish from Danny Rose's cross on the left. Rose, on as a substitute and making his debut, also set up the sixth goal, with Gibbs tapping in after the Tottenham Hotspur youngster had fired the ball in from the left.
With victory assured, Pearce then brought on Lewis as a striker, although the Peterborough goalkeeper did not threaten the Azerbaijan goal. It was a reminder of Pearce's days at Manchester City when David James was given a run out on the pitch. Rodwell added the final goal with a deflected effort in stoppage-time.