Sammy Lee's one-match reign as England Under-21 coach ended in victory as Justin Hoyte grabbed the winner against Holland in Alkmaar.
Arsenal full-back Hoyte pounced on a goalkeeping error from Boy Waterman before tucking home the only goal of the game at the DSB Stadion.
The friendly was a warm-up for next year's European Championship finals, which are also in Holland, and England are building a reputation as one of the favourites after beating Germany in their play-off qualifier and now defeating the current holders.
Lee was only in charge for the match because Peter Taylor, who guided the side to the finals, was concentrating on club matters at struggling Championship side Crystal Palace.
A number of the youngsters used by Taylor were also unavailable. Lee suffered eight withdrawals before the England team arrived in Holland, meaning there was a spare place on the bench for the clash played in teeming rain.
And the visitors were under pressure in the early stages of an open start to the game.
The hosts felt they should have had a penalty in the fourth minute when Sherjill MacDonald played the ball behind England's defence and Otman Bakkal went down under Scott Carson's challenge but a goal-kick was awarded.
Tom Huddlestone, skipper for the evening in Nigel-Reo Coker's absence, traded shots with Bakkal before David Nugent went even closer with an angled drive across the face of goal after winning a header and collecting a return pass from Wayne Routledge.
England were ahead in the 12th minute from an unlikely source in Hoyte. Nugent had chased Routledge's long ball down the right and tried to find his full-back Hoyte in support. The ball was played back to Waterman but his kick was charged down by Hoyte, who lifted the ball over the goalkeeper from close range.
Waterman looked suspect with his kicking again in the 21st minute but Routledge was unable to take advantage of the mis-cued clearance, and he also fumbled a cross later in the first half which fell out of range for Theo Walcott.
England tried to sit back on their lead and attack on the counter.
Julian Jenner, the AZ Alkmaar forward playing on his own ground, could only find the side netting after showing close control in the 23rd minute and cutting inside Hoyte on the right.
At the other end, the visitors had claims for a penalty turned down when Royston Drenthe challenged Routledge heavily in the penalty area.
With six minutes left in the half, goalkeeper Scott Carson had to scramble across his goal to palm a Quincy Owusu-Abeyie effort around the post after the former Arsenal forward curled towards the far corner.
Owusu-Abeyie's quick feet caused problems for the visitors but the Dutch were struggling to take advantage of his trickery. Leighton Baines, who had been tidy for the hosts in the first half, was taken off at the break for Liam Rosenior.
England had efforts on goal from Tom Huddlestone and Curtis Davies in the early period of the second half, but neither tested Waterman.
The Dutch took off MacDonald and Bakkal for Wout Brama and Eljero Elia in the 56th minute. They forged a chance three minutes later when Owusu-Abeyie danced around Hoyte and Routledge before crossing, but Jenner sliced his shot.
Walcott then glided past three opposition players before sending Routledge through with an intelligent through-ball, but Drenthe was back in time to cover.
Nugent failed to finish in the 73rd minute when he was played through on goal, while Walcott needed attention with 10 minutes remaining when Ryan Donk fouled him on the edge of the area.
Walcott was taken off for the rest of the game for Cameron Jerome, and substitute Peter Whittingham came close to adding a second with a dipping volley.
Jerome also was foiled by Waterman in a one on one, and there was a melee between players from both sides just before Robbert Schilder fired wide in injury time.