England U19 were made to work for the three points in the opening game of their preliminary qualifying group for the UEFA Under-19 Championships, as they came out 2-0 winners over Luxembourg U19 in Rhyl.
A cricket scoreline looked to be on the cards as Arsenal forward Stephy Mavididi bustled through the defence to score within 120 seconds of kick-off, but they had to wait until the final ten minutes for a second goal despite dominating the match.
Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon secured the win with a tap-in late on, but manager Keith Downing may well have been disappointed with the scoreline with the previous under-19s match between the two nations finishing 8-0 to England back in 2014.
Mavididi magic gives England early lead
The kick-off was taken under a torrential downpour but, despite the inclement conditions, England got into their stride straight away and took the lead within the first two minutes.
After a spell of pressure down the left channel, Arsenal hitman Mavididi's powerful running proved too much for the Luxembourg defence as he seared inside from the left and clipped a tidy finish into the far bottom corner.
The rain relented almost as soon as the ball hit the net but, while England continued to enjoy the bulk of the possession, their next chance on ten minutes came from a Luxembourg mistake.
Goalkeeper Bobby Jiang was fed an overhit pass by left-back Fabien Heinz and for a moment it seemed as though Mavididi would sieze upon the loose ball. He scrambled to get a foot in but Jiang recovered just in time to force the ball away.
Young Lions dominate but fail to break through
England's superior athleticism and technique became apparent early on in the game, with Rushian Hepburn-Murphy causing a constant threat through the middle.
He looked to have broken clear after a quarter of an hour but the Luxembourg centre-halves tracked back well to smother the ball and prevent a shot. Soon after, right-winger Dujon Sterling angled inside from the flank but Jiang came out to meet the Chelsea youngster and managed to get his body behind the ball.
It took until around the 25-minute mark for England to win the first corner of the game, but from it they almost stole a second goal.
After the ball was delivered from the left there ensued something of a melee in the penalty area with a shot coming in from close range, but cleared off the line by a covering Luxembourg defender.
There was a short break in play near the end of the first half as Luxembourg defender Eric Brandenburger went down after a blow to the face from Jay DaSilva as the pair challenged for a loose ball in the centre circle. The Stuttgarter Kickers right-back required a moment of treatment from the medical team, but was soon fit to continue.
Jiang was sold short by his own defence once more on the brink of half-time as Hepburn-Murphy almost siezed on a loose pass back, but the keeper once again managed to slide out quickly enough to clear his lines.
Luxembourg grow into second half
Luxembourg's best chance of the came came moments into the second half as Brandenburger was allowed space on the right-wing to deliver a ball into the area, but Aaron Ramsdale's low save came at a price as he took a blow to the face from forward Victor Klein.
They had another chance soon after as an England corner resulted in a Luxembourg break through Klein, who was brought down outside the penalty area by Trevoh Chalobah.
Defender Fabien Heinz took the kick left-footed and, though curling and on target, his effort lacked venom and Ramsdale produced a regulation catch.
England continued to control the majority of possession and Tayo Edun played the pass of the match early in the second half. He picked out the run of overlapping full-back Trent Arnold on the right with an inch-perfect pass from a crowded central position, but Arnold's speculative shot at goal flew high and wide from a tight angle.
The Young Lions' left side combined well a quarter of an hour into the second period as DaSilva breezed between two defenders and found Sessegnon in space, but the Fulham wideman's dangerous delivery was met by a Luxembourg boot and put behind for a corner.
There was a moment of panic for Jiang with 15 minutes to play as a free kick from the right from Edun threatened to drift over his head and inside the far post, but the goalkeeper managed to back-pedal and turn the ball to safety.
Sessegnon tap-in wraps up win
England finally got their second goal with ten minutes to play, with more than a hint of fortune about it. A deep free kick was delivered by substitute Chris Willock and, after a moment of pinball in the area, the ball was delivered in again from the right where it deflected to Sessegnon in space for a tap-in at the far post.
The Young Lions continued to press in the closing stages of the game but, for all their dominance throughout, had to settle for a 2-0 scoreline which hardly reflected the one-sided nature of the match.
England will face Wales and Greece in the coming days as they look to take a step closer to qualification for the final tournament in Georgia in the summer of 2017.