England U21 1 (Gibson 83)
Belarus U21 0
Ben Gibson’s 83rd minutes strike helped the England Under-21s over the line as they beat Belarus Under-21s 1-0 at Oakwell.
Gibson followed up Luke Garbutt’s free kick to score the goal that gave Gareth Southgate his fifteenth win in 17 games as Head Coach.
Mikalai Zolatau had picked up his second yellow card after bringing down Ruben Loftus-Cheek for the resulting free kick but victory puts the Three Lions in great form ahead of their Under-21s Championship in the Czech Republic later this month.
Southgate said: “We have to give them a lot of credit for the way they defended but I thought it was good for us. It was difficult for us to break them down but I thought our attack and application were spot on.
“The squad has great belief and I was happy with the approach of the players that came on. We stuck to our plan and made the substitutions when we did.
“I’m very proud of John Stones tonight, it’s a club that is very close to his heart. He was really looking forward to the game and things went alright.
"It would have been harsh not to start him and we played him for the amount of time we deemed to be right.
“We’ve needed the games and it has been good for people like Tom Carroll to get closer to 90 minutes but I’m pleased with the games we have had and the focus has been solely on training.”
The crowd were expectant with the return of John Stones and it was the Three Lions who made all the early running but with nothing to show for it.
Carl Jenkinson whipped in a dangerous ball that Dzmitry Inhatsenka diverted behind and from the resulting corner, Ben Gibson rose highest but flashed his effort wide.
Moments later, Saido Berahino had the ball in the net after following in Alex Pritchard’s shot but the offside flag denied him the opener.
Pritchard and Berahino combined again 15 minutes with the latter denied by Uladzislau Vasiliuchak’s feet before Nathan Redmond’s 20-yard strike stung his palms and Berahino’s follow-up was smartly turned behind.
Mikalai Zolatau was cautioned after bringing down Pritchard but Luke Garbutt’s free kick evaded everyone as the first-half ended scoreless.
Stones was replaced at half-time by Calum Chambers while Ruben Loftus-Cheek came on in place of Will Hughes in the home of opening the scoring.
Tom Carroll slipped in Berahino and he fired dangerously across goal with his final touch, Harry Kane and Danny Ings coming on with Nathan Redmond also departing.
Luke Garbutt tested Vasiliuchak with a low drive from Ings’ pullback while Zolatau were dismissed eight minutes from time after picking up his second booking for bring down Loftus-Cheek on the corner of the box.
Garbutt’s free-kick was smartly saved but Gibson was on hand to scoop in the rebound to open the scoring in the 83rd minute.
Kane and Ings linked up two minutes from time with the latter chipping Vasiliuchak but the effort bounced away for a corner. The final action saw Ings flick Carl Jenkinson’s cross over the bar as England saw the game out comfortably.
Eng: Butland (Bond 69), Jenkinson, Stones (Chambers 45), Gibson, Garbutt, Ward-Prowse (Chalobah 69), Carroll (Forster-Caskey 69), Hughes (Loftus-Cheek 45), Redmond (Ings 60), Berahino (Kane 59), Pritchard (Lingard 69).