Video highlights of U17s' victory over Portugal at Meadow Lane.
The FA International U17 Tournament
3pm, Sunday 30 August 2009
Meadow Lane, Notts County FC
A second-half strike from Chuks Aneke gave England victory over Portugal in their final match of this season’s FA International U7 Tournament, although Rui Bento’s side clinched the title courtesy of victories over Turkey and Italy earlier in the week.
On 69 minutes Aneke curled the ball beyond Andre Pereira from the edge of the area and into the corner of the net to give England a deserved three points. It also sets them up nicely for the first round of qualifiers for next summer’s European U17 Championship. They travel to Azerbaijan in October to take on the hosts as well as Serbia and Kazakhstan, and victory over a technically gifted Portugal side will certainly do a lot for their confidence after they drew 1-1 with Italy on Wednesday and lost 3-2 to Turkey on Friday.
Against Turkey, Peacock admitted his side had given the ball away on too many occasions, but there was no evidence of such carelessness this afternoon.
Although Portugal began the match with a 100 per cent record they were distinctly second best against John Peacock’s side who kept hold of the ball for large passages of play, passing and probing in every area of the pitch.
Following the 3-2 defeat to Turkey on Friday evening John Peacock restored six players to the starting line-up with Sam Johnstone, Bruno Pilatos, Louis Laing, William Keane, Benik Afobe and Ravel Morrison all regaining their place. England lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Morrison, Keane and Berahino supporting Afobe upfront. Nathaniel Chalobah and Pilatos were employed as the two holding midfielders. Jake Bidwell was moved from the left wing to left back.
Neither side took control of the game early on, though Portugal will feel they should have gone ahead in the eighth minute when Ricardo Esgaio broke with pace from the heart of midfield. He advanced to the England box and squared for Sancidino Silva, but the front man was thwarted by Johnstone who got down quickly to block.
Throughout the first-half England began their attacks from the back, passing through the five in midfield and asked Bidwell and Moore to provide the width from full-back. The visitors initially proved difficult to break down and although England retained possession well, their first real chance didn’t come until the 23rd minute. Good play from Moore and Keane on the right allowed the latter to feed Berahino on the edge of the box. Berahino, who scored two goals against Turkey, took one touch and hit a shot on the turn which was held well by Pereira.
Another opportunity was created from the right flank just five minutes later. This time, a deep cross from Moore was met well by Afobe who had climbed above two Portuguese defenders. His downward header was firm but just narrowly off target.
For the remainder of the half England looked in control, denying the Portuguese possession of the ball and restricted them to the odd counter attack, one of which almost brought about the opening goal. Just after the half-hour mark, Silva out-foxed Bidwell with some neat footwork, before exchanging passes with Esgaio. Silva collected the return ball inside the box but shot wide.
They only had two other sightings at goal in the opening 40 minutes, both from distance, as Joao Carlos and Luis Rocha saw their shots fly over the bar.
After that first effort from Berahino, England certainly looked the side most likely to break the deadlock as, first Afobe and then Morrison both had chances, but they both went the wrong side of the post.
On 38 minutes, William Keane had the best chance of the half. He was found unmarked inside the box by a cross from Moore, but his effort cannoned off the bar. The Manchester United forward then had another opportunity just moments later. He dovetailed well with Berahino on the edge of the Portugal 18-yard box before sending a curling effort narrowly wide, with Pereira beaten.
Just three minutes into the second half, it was Keane again who had another glorious opportunity to put England 1-0 up. Afobe had done well to get to the byline and his cut back once more found Keane in space in the box, but his side-footed effort bent agonisingly wide of the far post.
The second period began much in the same way as the first had, with little action occurring in the final third, with the exception of a poor shot from Silva and a cross from Moore which Afobe couldn’t quite reach. Both sides made second-half changes as three games in five days began to take its toll, but the game was kick-started into life just after the hour mark.
On 63 minutes England were awarded a free-kick on the left and a decent delivery from Keane found Thorpe at the back post. The defender, who had looked impressive in the air all afternoon, headed back across goal where Afobe was lurking, but Pereira parried the ball away.
One of Portugal’s substitutes, Catarino, was then released down the left and he raced into the box and found Silva by the penalty spot. His low shot had beaten Johnstone but Thorpe was on the line to deny the lone forward.
The breakthrough came on 69 minutes and it came from Aneke, who had only been on the field for 13 minutes. Once more England worked the ball through midfield with Morrison finding Aneke in the centre. The Arsenal man played a one-two with Keane and then rifled a shot beyond Pereira and into the corner of the net. England finally had a goal their play merited.
Josh Rees, on for Chalobah, and then Pilatos attempted to double this lead in the final minutes but the Portuguese stopper got his body behind both efforts and the game ended 1-0.
In his programme notes, Peacock admitted this Tournament would provide ideal preparation for the First Qualifying Round of the Euros. Having played three games against quality opposition in such a short space of time he knows this group of players will now be better equipped to deal with the rigours of tournament football when they arrive in Azerbaijan.
The focus is now on securing a place in Liechtenstein for the Finals next May and this Tournament will certainly have done England’s chances no harm.You can watch highlights from England's victory over Portugal tomorrow afternoon with exclusive interviews with John Peacock, Liam Moore and goal-hero Chuks Aneke.England
1 Sam Johnstone, 2 Bruno Pilatos (C), 5 Louis Laing, 6 Nathaniel Chalobah (16 Josh Rees, 49), 7 William Keane (18 Jake Fowler, 70), 9 Benik Afobe, 10 Ravel Morrison, 12 Liam Moore, 14 Jake Bidwell (3 Luke Garbutt, 49), 15 Tom Thorpe, 17 Saido Berahino (8 Chuks Aneke, 56)Substitutes not used
4 George Thorne,13 Jack ButlandHead Coach
1 Andre Pereira, 2 Pedro Almeida, 3 Tiago Ferreira, 4 Tobias Figueiredo, 7 Ricardo Esgaio (16 Catarino, 56), 8 Joao Mario (C) (6 Paulo Jorge, 67), 9 Rui Silva (10 Mateus Fonseca, 46), 11 Luis Rocha (14 Fabio Martins, 56), 13 Daniel Martins, 17 Sancidino Silva (5 Rodolfo Simoes, 67), 18 Joao CarlosSubstitutes not used
12 Igor Rocha,15 Andre TeixeiraHead Coach