NATHAN REDMOND tormented Wales for the second time this season as England took another giant stride towards next year’s UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals with a 3-1 victory.
The runaway Group 1 leaders moved nine points clear of second-placed Moldova, who have three games left and hold a vastly inferior goal difference, after Norwich winger Redmond fired a hat-trick, although his third goal appeared to go in after brushing team-mate Saldo Berahino.
It left Wales with little chance of progressing into the play-offs, despite Gwion Edwards breaching England’s defence to draw his team level just two minutes after Redmond put England ahead.
It was a rare goal for England to concede during manager Gareth Southgate’s reign, but they went on to dominate proceedings as Redmond scored his second before hitting a post midway through the second half and then completing his hat-trick through an angled strike in stoppage time.
The deadlock was broken after 18 minutes when Redmond ran a retreating Wales defence ragged, cutting inside from a wide position and shooting past Wales goalkeeper Connor Roberts at his near post.
But Wales responded well and, after Bristol City’s Wes Burns saw a shot saved by England captain Jack Butland, the home side drew level just two minutes after Redmond’s strike when Edwards pounced from a corner.
Redmond proved England’s inspiration again seven minutes before halftime when he restored their advantage after firing past Roberts from outside the box.
Wales offered little in comparison, often being outmuscled and overpowered in midfield, where Lingard proved a dominant force.
It was a relatively quiet night in defence, though, with Butland not troubled during a second period when his only worthwhile piece of action was to collect a harmless Wales corner, and Redmond had the final say with a goal that confirmed another threepoint haul.