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Plaudits for Noble as England stutter

Filed: Tuesday, 16th June 2009
By: Staff Writer

Mark Noble was named Man of the Match as England struggled to overcome Finland in their opening fixture of the European under-21 Championship in Halmstad last night.

The United midfielder, captaining Stuart Pearce's side helped his side limp over the finishing line by the slimmest of margins. The young Lions had been forced to play with ten men for the best part of an hour after Chelsea' Michael Mancienne was sent off for a first half professional foul.

Middlesbrough's Lee Cattermole opened the scoring early on before Mancienne's error led to a red card for him and a penalty for the Fins, which was duly despatched to level the scores. However a bullet header from Manchester City's Micah Richards midway through the second period was enough to get England off to a winning start.

Reflecting on the last night's victory, Noble told thefa.com:

"We worked really hard. No matter how you get the win the result is the most important. Now we have a tough game against Spain and we are going to have to prepare for that one. We are looking forward to it.

"I think the conditions were tough. We been playing on wet pitches for two weeks but the pitch was dry today and that suited them. But we have won the game and put some work in. We have grafted and deserved that."

James Tomkins made a brief appearance as an 89th minute substitute for goalscorer Rochards. The other game in England's group between favourites Spain and Germany ended in a 0-0 stalemate.

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