Northern Ireland 0 England 3: Northern Ireland’s hopes of winning the Sky Sports Victory Shield were crushed by England at the Ballymena Showgrounds last night.
Former Manchester United and England favourite Andy Cole looked on from the stand as his son Devante fired the visitors in front in first-half stoppage time.
A free-kick from Arsenal’s Jack Jebb on 53 minutes, his first goal in the Shield, killed off Desi Curry’s side.
Half-time substitute Joe Rothwell poured on the misery on 70 minutes to make it 3-0 and set up a Shield decider against Scotland next Wednesday.
Northern Ireland put themselves back in the title chase with a 1-0 win over Wales in November but England were a different class.
Newcastle United’s Adam Campbell gave Northern Ireland an early scare when he struck the base of the post with a low drive on eight minutes.
But the hosts posed an attacking threat in the 16th minute when Norwich City’s Cameron McGeehan sent a deflected header over the crossbar.
On 21 minutes England almost made the breakthrough when Cole weaved his way past the home defence but his shot went straight at goalkeeper Chris Johns.
But Northern Ireland were carved open in first-half injury time. Cole’s finish was cool and composed but Jebb also played his part with a clever assist.
Liam McGillian forced the England keeper to make a fine block on the restart but he had strayed into an offside position.
But Jebb grabbed his side’s second goal on 53 minutes when his free-kick beat the wall and keeper Johns.
Josh Doherty’s clearance on the goal-line from Bradley Lewis’ header prevented England from extending their lead.
However, Rothwell finished off the hosts in emphatic style.