A sublime free-kick strike from Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson, currently on-loan at Hoffenheim, was the standout strike as England under-21s extended their unbeaten run to 35 qualifiers with a 2-0 win over Scotland yesterday.
Nelson, who is still 18 until December, capped his debut at this level with a goal and assist off the substitutes’ bench during their 7-0 thrashing over Andorra last Thursday.
It made plenty of highlight reels across the country, courtesy of a deft backheel finish. Aidy Boothroyd opted to start the forward on this occasion and was naturally repaid.
The third-youngest player in the u21s, Nelson operated on his favoured right-hand side – playing alongside West Brom’s Harvey Barnes and Liverpool forward Dominic Solanke in a 4-2-3-1 formation supplying Tammy Abraham.
That victory ensured England’s passage into next summer’s European Championship Finals with a game to spare, but this victory was impressive too as Boothroyd made ten changes to his starting line-up with only goalkeeper Dean Henedrson keeping his place.
Promising start to season, for club and country
It was a fantastic strike from Reiss, the type that we’re used to seeing from his days dazzling in among the various youth ranks in north London. Stepping up with confidence, he watched his effort fly into the top corner from 30 yards out – while Everton playmaker Kieran Dowell added gloss in stoppage-time to ensure the youngsters left Edinburgh with all three points.
Nelson’s latest goal has just typified an impressive start to the season for both club and country – having netted twice in three Bundesliga games, while making his UEFA Champions League debut during their 2-2 away draw against Shakthar Donetsk last month.
Nelson may be subconsciously trying to make up for lost time, having seen close friend Jadon Sancho earn his first call-up for England’s senior side last week.
The pair were previously opponents in FA Youth Cup and Premier League 2 action whenever Arsenal met Manchester City – but Sancho’s decision to leave home comforts for a brave move abroad was done twelve months prior to Reiss’ loan venture in Hoffenheim. He’ll be hoping that, along with his promotion to the under-21s, he continues to earn regular first-team football in Germany’s top tier, where he has already settled quickly this term.