Stuart Pearce praises England Under-21s

Stuart Pearce
© PA Photos
England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce praises his team following their 2-0 victory over their Azerbaijan counterparts in Baku.

England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce has praised his team following their 2-0 victory over their Azerbaijan counterparts in Baku.

Goals either side of half-time from Steven Caulker and Jonjo Shelvey lifted England's youngsters to the top of their group, within a point qualification for the 2013 European Championships.

Pearce told reporters after the game: "We are pleased to have won the match and hopefully that puts us in a situation that sees us in the playoffs.

"We gave our best. We've played better, but this was my strongest team available.

"Whenever you play international football, there is an expectation on your team and we knew Norway were putting pressure on us to win the group with their game tonight, in Belgium."

Pearce also expressed his respect for Azerbaijan Under-21s, describing them as an "improving nation".

"I think it was the game we expected it to be, a very tight game," he added. "Azerbaijan are an improving nation. The first two group games were difficult for them, coming to England and Belgium.

"Since then, their results have been very, very good."

England Under-21s go into their final game against Norway needing only a draw to secure qualification.

Jonjo Shelvey
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