Czech Republic U21s 1 England U21s 2: Arsenal star Smith Rowe scores thumping strike in latest Euro qualifier win

EMILE SMITH ROWE’S thump proved he did not have the hump.

The Arsenal starlet, 21, could have been forgiven for being grumpy after finding himself left out of the senior England squad and back with the Under-21s.


But if that was indeed how he was feeling, he certainly did not show it as his booming half-volley set the Young Lions on their way to a massive three points.

Jacob Ramsey’s tap-in 52 seconds into the second half ensured the victory which put Lee Carsley’s young side on the verge of qualification for next summer’s Euros.

England are now level on points with their Czech hosts at the top of Group G, but with two games in hand.

All they need to do is win just one of their remaining three fixtures to be guaranteed of top spot, as their two victories over the Czechs gives them the better head-to-head record.

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It is likely it will all be wrapped up at Chesterfield on Tuesday when England host Albania.

But if not, there is the insurance policy of a trip to Kosovo later that week or a home game against Slovenia in Huddersfield the following Monday.

England’s players took the knee before kick-off to continue the fight against racial injustice but shamefully were booed and whistled by many of the home supporters while doing so.

Any doubts over whether Smith Rowe’s heart was in this game having come down from the seniors were allayed just a few minutes in as he raced back to head away a dangerous ball.

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The Gunners whizkid then showed his considerable skills by dribbling at the Czech defence and standing a ball up to the far post.

Morgan Gibbs-White beat his man in the air to meet it, but planted it straight at young Manchester United stopper Matej Kovar.

England were shading it without looking too threatening but then, midway through the first half, Smith Rowe silenced the crowd with a thunderous opener.

Flo Balogun had slipped through Curtis Jones with a clever pass and the crowd cheered as if they had scored a goal of their own as Kovar repelled the Liverpool midfielder’s shot.

But cheers were hushed instantly as Smith Rowe dispatched the rebound into the top corner with an exquisite half-volley.

England almost conceded what would have been a calamitous equaliser when Jimmy Garner, recently promoted with Nottingham Forest, deflected a cross into his own side netting.

The hosts were out after the interval early, looking eager to get back into the match.

But the sting was taken completely out of the tie as Ramsey quickly made it 2-0, firing home from close range after good work from Gibbs-White.

Ex-Brentford midfielder Jan Zamburek spurned a couple of half-chances for the Czechs but England looked comfortable.

The hosts ensured a nervy finish when Daniel Fila’s peach of a strike flew in off the crossbar with four minutes to go.

It had the 5654 fans in the Strelecky Ostrov stadium in a frenzy and forced Carsley's kids to hang on.

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Carsley claimed pre-match that he had been obsessing over this fixture for the last three months, studying the Czechs every day.

That diligence paid off and it would be a huge shock if his Young Lions did not finish the qualification job over the next ten days.

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