Pearce roars again: Proud boss into European Finals after hand from Vokes

Not for the first time in his life, Stuart Pearce's chest swelled with national pride last night.

Twelve years after the patriotic roar which became the emblem of Euro 96, Pearce watched his Young Lions book their place in next summer's European Championship.

The bulging biceps and tattoos are now hidden by a dark blue England tracksuit but the intense desire to succeed for his country still burns within the Under 21 manager, who glowered from the touchline as his team squeezed past Wales in this pulsating play-off.

Sam Vokes

Error: Wales striker Sam Vokes scores an own goal to make it 2-2 on the night

It was not always comfortable viewing for Pearce. His team led 3-2 from last Friday's first leg in Cardiff but wobbled against a Welsh team packed with players from lower league clubs but wonderfully orchestrated by Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey.

The last 24 minutes were particularly nervous after a poor decision by Dutch referee Kevin Blom to send off Tom Huddlestone. Sam Vokes, drafted in from the Wales senior team, rattled the post with five minutes left but, in the end, it was his unfortunate own goal which settled the tie.

At the final whistle there was no fist pumping from Pearce, only a shake of the head and a handshake of consolation for Wales manager Brian Flynn.

Over the two games, Flynn's team played the prettier football, usually featuring Ramsey and Simon Church, but England were powerful, quick and potent, and it is they who will head for Sweden.

They were also stronger from set-pieces, a crucial factor against a Wales defence made up of four full backs.

Huddlestone opened the scoring with a free-kick after Ramsey fouled Adam Johnson just outside the penalty area. His low curler skirted the wall and beat goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams.

Tom Huddlestone

Tom Huddlestone celebrates his goal for England

The bulk of the 24,000 rattling around inside Villa Park celebrated but Wales refused to submit.

Ramsey collected a knock-down from Church, was given space and lashed a left-footer into the top corner from 30 yards.

It was a beautiful strike from the 17-year-old, always fading away from Joe Hart, and four minutes later he was terrorising England again.

Lee Cattermole was caught in possession and Ramsey picked up the ball and threaded a pass to Church, who slipped away from the centre halves and clipped a neat shot over Hart as he dashed from his line.

Aaron Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey was superb for Wales at Villa Park

Ramsey's menace forced England into a change before the break, with Fabrice Muamba replacing Cattermole in the centre of midfield, and Pearce's team were level again.

Jamie O'Hara delivered a superb inswinging free-kick from the right flank, Steven Taylor headed it back into the goalmouth, where it hit Vokes on the arm and deflected into the net. It was a fluke but it proved decisive.

Huddlestone was sent off in the 66th minute. He was a split second late sliding into a 50-50 challenge with Darcy Blake but it was a one-footed tackle and his boot was not high.

Off he went though, and he will miss at least one of the games in the Finals through suspension.

Pearce flew straight to Belarus to join the senior squad, taking Joe Hart and David Wheater with him at Fabio Capello's request.

Gabriel Agbonlahor should have joined them but withdrew with a 'tight hamstring', although he expects to be fit for Aston Villa against Portsmouth.

Hart does not play for Manchester City until Monday but Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate may be entitled to question the wisdom of flying Wheater to Minsk, where he is unlikely to play, disrupting his recovery process and then flying him back to prepare to face Chelsea at 12.15pm on Saturday.

'We will try to take care of them the best we can,' said Pearce. 'But if I asked the players if they want to go back to their clubs or travel, they want to be on that jet. I've spoken to Gareth.

'You've got to understand the boys want to play for the Under 21s and they want to play for the seniors.'