LIVERPOOL’S Jordan Henderson captained England U21s for the first time – and marked the occasion with the pick of the goals as England thrashed Azerbaijan.
He curled home an emphatic right-footed shot from outside the area between two Henri Lansbury volleys, after Craig Dawson gave England the lead.
Martyn Waghorn blasted a fifth over a static Osman Umarov in the visitors’ goal before Dawson glanced home from Lansbury’s corner.
Manager Stuart Pearce admitted he could not have asked for more from his latest crop of hopefuls.
Pearce’s young Lions banished memories of June’s dismal European Championships by getting their qualifying campaign for 2013 up and running with the easiest of victories.
“So many players making their debuts, so many players new to the squad,” said Pearce.
“So the result was fantastic to kick the campaign off, and something to build on work from.
“We’re going to have to improve and get better.
“This is a really tough competition to not just to get to the finals of but to attempt to win.
“I was very pleased with everyone who contributed. We had to hit the ground running, you can’t afford to drop any points.”
Pearce said of Lansbury, who was part of the squad in Denmark: “Henri, in some ways, came of age this summer.
“You have to look at these young players and sometimes it takes some longer than others to come make a stamp at under-21 level.
“Henri’s one of those. He’s been patient, his training was fantastic during the summer.
“We saw a different “Henri Lansbury, a more mature young man that was playing and was fantastic around the group.”