Watch as Arsenal pair Nketiah and Nelson lead England U21s to 3-2 win against Turkey – The Sun

AIDY BOOTHROYD will have breathed a huge sigh of relief when the England hierarchy agreed to let him carry on after the summer’s Euro debacle.

And he may well have had an even bigger one when two goals inside a minute turned this game from looking like another damaging defeat to three precious points.

The 48-year-old looked on thin ice when his Lion Cubs crashed out in Italy at the group stage without winning a game.

But he kept his job in spite of the disaster as the blame was pinned on the players, who were accused of arrogance this week by FA supremo Les Reed.

Nevertheless, Boothroyd knew how important making a good start to this new Euros campaign would be.

He was handed the ideal start as Eddie Nketiah scored within four minutes.

Yet England conspired to throw that lead away as they Dogukan Sinik and Mert Muldur capitalised on some lax defending to put the hosts ahead shortly after the break.

Boothroyd’s brow will have been sweating down on the touchline of the intimidating Kocaeli Stadium in the small town of Izmit, an hour east of Istanbul.

But then Phil Foden, who had controversially been left on the bench in the crucial loss to Romania in June, teed up Nketiah for an equaliser on 74 minutes.

And just seconds later, the game turned on its head completely as a lucky deflection from a Reiss Nelson strike fooled the goalkeeper and made it 3-2.

After so much perceived misfortune at the Euros – at least from Boothroyd’s perspective – he will have been delighted to see a mega slice of luck go his way.

The ex-Watford chief admitted on Monday it took him FIVE weeks to get over his side being given the boot at the group stage in Italy.

He headed straight on holiday as the noise cranked up over his future after such bitter disappointment.

Yet in a real show of faith, FA technical director Reed gave the 48-year-old the thumbs-up to continue, laying the blame at the players’ door rather than the manager.

It must have been a relief to Boothroyd, who was desperate to throw himself into a new campaign and leave the summer nightmare behind.


A fresh start was made easier by the fact that only three of his latest squad had been involved at the finals: Foden, Nelson and Morgan Gibbs-White, who all started in a 3-5-2.

A new class had graduated, with an entirely uncapped back five including Steven Sessegnon – twin brother of Tottenham new-boy Ryan – Nathanial Chalobah’s sibling Trevor and Monaco kid Jonathan Panzo.

The ground may have had a modern, Allianz Arena feel to it – but the patchy pitch looked like something from the 1980s.

Despite the bobbly turf, England made the perfect start as Nketiah put them ahead with four minutes played.

A fine flowing move down the left ended with Foden firing in a low cross that the hapless Ravil Tagir miskicked, allowing Nketiah to stroke past the keeper.

It was not the toughest opportunity he will ever have but just like his idol Ian Wright, Nketiah was in the right place and applied the right finish.

The Arsenal starlet, on loan at Leeds this term, spoke in the build-up of his close relationship with Gunners legend Wright.

The former Three Lions star, 55, has been giving Nketiah tips and will have been delighted to see his protege get off the mark in qualifying so quickly.

England looked to be in control but the gap between midfield and the back three was a concern.

And on 25 minutes the visitors were punished as Kutucu broke, playing the ball through for Sinik who cleverly fired past Aaron Ramsdale under pressure from Max Aarons.

Within seconds of the restart Foden showed his anger as he barged Orkun Kokcu after receiving a rough challenge from the Feyenoord ace, leading to some ultimately harmless argy-bargy between the two sets of players.

Nelson should have put Boothroyd’s side back in front with ten minutes to the break but he screwed a six-yard shot wide after Aarons had put it on a plate for him.

Things went from bad to worse six minutes after the interval as Turkey went ahead through a simple set-piece.

Kokcu floated in a corner to the near post where defender Mert Muldur could not believe his luck as he swept home unmarked.

It sent the Kocaeli fans nuts and Boothroyd responded by going to four at the back, sacrificing Sessegnon for Mason Greenwood.

England were staring at defeat but two goals inside a minute turned the whole game on its head.

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