Bent on target again

England Under-21 3Ukraine Under-21 1DARREN Bent made it three goals in six England Under-21 appearances as he helped Peter Taylor celebrate his first game back in charge with a 3-1 win over Ukraine.

England Under-21 3

Ukraine Under-21 1

DARREN Bent made it three goals in six England Under-21 appearances as he helped Peter Taylor celebrate his first game back in charge with a 3-1 win over Ukraine.

The Blues striker's goal came in time added on after fellow substitute Peter Whittingham pulled the ball back for him to sidefoot in from six yards.


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Town team-mate Matt Richards put in a steady first 45 minutes on his full debut for the under-21s. The 19-year-old defender, who has already racked up 60 appearances for the Blues, was among four players replaced at half-time as England kept a first-half clean sheet.

Richards, who made his Ipswich debut as their youngest-ever European player in the UEFA Cup against Avenir Beggen, got his first touch in an England shirt from the kick-off when his skipper, Gary O'Neil from Portsmouth, laid the ball off for him to start a move.

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If the ice-cool Richards was nervous it didn't show as the young Town player got a lot of good early touches and was involved in much of England's build-up play.

The 19-year-old was among three new caps starting the match, along with O'Neil and West Ham's Anton Ferdinand, brother of Rio.

Richards showed decent defensive qualities after England went ahead through Carlton Cole and Ukraine tried to prise the hosts open down their left flank.

Richards said: "It was excellent to be playing. I didn't expect to start. Just being in the squad was a big thrill, this was a real bonus and I really enjoyed it"

Bent, with two previous goals in five England games, came on for Newcastle's James Milner on the hour and was denied when Odesa keeper Yevgen Shyryayev saved at his feet and he was denied a penalty when he went over under Ukraine skipper Mykola Ishchenko's challenge.

Ian Westlake, who played water-polo for his country, had to make do with watching from the bench in his first call-up to the squad, although another opportunity is bound to present itself for the talented youngster.

The trio followed in the footsteps of Kieron Dyer, Richard Wright and James Scowcroft, who were regulars for England Under-21s under Taylor in the late 1990s. Wright and Dyer went on to win full international honours.

Blues loan target Justin Hoyte replaced Bolton right-back Nicky Hunt at half-time and the Arsenal defender looked assured and confident.

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