Young Lions make winning start
Tuesday, 18 May, 2010
Two quick-fire goals in the second half sees off Czechs.
Glenn Lavery in Liechtenstein
UEFA European U17 Championship
Live on Eurosport
By Glenn Lavery in Liechtenstein
Two second-half goals in the space of a minute allowed England to get off to the perfect start in their UEFA European U17 Championship Finals campaign in Liechtenstein, as the quick-fire double helped guide John Peacock's side to a 3-1 victory over Czech Republic.
On 68 minutes Josh McEachran finished off a move he started by confidently lifting the ball over Vlastimil Veselý from close range, before Benik Afobe made it 3-1, firing in England’s third goal of the game via a deflection off Tomáš Kalas.
These goals came in a second half that England controlled and were the least they deserved for the quality of their play and the number of chances they created. However, things didn’t start too well as Jakub Plšek found himself unmarked inside the box to head the Czechs into the lead from a Tomáš Česlák free-kick.
Ross Barkley equalised after 20 minutes, rifling home the loose ball following a Will Keane cross and it was left to McEachran and Afobe to give England all three points in the second half.
Peacock was only able to name five substitutes before the match as Conor Coady was serving a one-match suspension following the Elite Round and Chuks Aneke had withdrawn from the squad injured, to be replaced by West Brom's Saido Berahino.
After dominating possession in the opening period, and registering the game’s first effort at goal – a long range strike from George Thorne – England found themselves 1-0 down after just seven minutes, completely against the run of play.
Nathaniel Chalobah conceded a free-kick roughly 25-yards from goal, which the Czech skipper Česlák swung into the box from the right-hand side. Plšek managed to wriggle free and headed the ball into the corner of the net past the helpless Sam Johnstone. England might have taken the lead themselves just a minute before but a clipped through ball from Thorne spun horribly off Benik Afobe’s head and Keane was unable to get a clean connection on the loose ball.
Plšek's header rocked Peacock’s side momentarily but they soon regained their composure and continued to enjoy the lion’s share of the ball with Keane again having a sight at goal, though a deflection took the sting out of the shot and Veselý gathered comfortably.
After 20 minutes, England finally got the goal their play merited. The ball was worked neatly from left to right through Luke Garbutt, McEachran and Thorne, the latter feeding Keane on the right of the box. The Manchester United midfielder whipped in a low, teasing cross to the far post and although Marek Krátký cleared Barkley was on home to smash home the equaliser with aplomb.
Buoyed by Barkley’s goal, England continued to press forward in search of a second but a rasping drive from Martin Hurka almost put the Czechs back into the lead, though the bar intervened to keep the scores level. Moments later McEachran also hit the bar with an over-hit cross and he came almost as close ten minutes before half-time, sliding in to meet another Keane centre but the Chelsea man only managed to guide the ball over the frame of the goal.
Afobe then called Veselý into action after he wriggled free from the attentions of Kalas inside the area. The Czech stopper got down bravely to deny England’s No.9 with his torso.
Peacock’s young side continued to control proceedings after the interval, building attacks neatly from back to front and their next attempt at goal came when Afobe charged down the left, broke into the box and clipped a near-post centre to Wickham, who saw his header go into the side netting.
Good play again by Afobe took him into the same area on the left where he found McEachran. Some neat footwork allowed the midfielder to clip a ball to Wickham at the far post, who, at the second attempt, drilled a shot on target, but unfortunately for England it was straight at Veselý who fisted the ball away.
There was a lot less action in the second half and, though England continued to press, it appeared the Czechs were happy with a point and pulled ten men behind the ball for large chunks of the half, leaving just Dominik Mandula up front on his own.
However, in the 68th minute McEachran started a move from the centre of the field, finding Afobe out on the left and yet again England worked the ball across the field until it eventually reached substitute Rob Hall. He fed Wickham on the edge of the six-yard box and a little lay-off from the forward allowed McEachran to take a touch before chipping the ball impudently over the diving Veselý.
Just a minute later Afobe sealed the victory, though there was an element of good fortune to his goal. Barkley found the striker in a central position just outside the area, Afobe fired the ball goalwards and a wicked deflection off Kalas sent the ball beyond Veselý and into the corner of the net. It might have been even better for England in added time but Hall’s stinging free-kick was parried behind by Veselý.
It mattered not, though. The Young Lions had already wrapped up the three points, giving them a fine start to their European campaign, as they bid to become the first England team to triumph in this competition.
1 Sam Johnstone, 2 Bruno Pilatos, 3 Luke Garbutt (C), 5 Nathaniel Chalobah, 6 Andre Wisdom, 7 Will Keane (11 Robert Hall, 59), 8 George Thorne (14 Tom Thorpe, 75), 9 Benik Afobe, 15 Josh McEachran (18 Luke Williams, 75), 16 Ross Barkley, 17 Connor Wickham
Substitutes not used: 12 Ben Gibson, 13 Jack Butland
Goals: Ross Barkley (20), Josh McEachran (68), Benik Afobe (69)
Head Coach: John Peacock
16 Vlastimil Veselý , 2 Tomáš Kalas, 3 Jan Mižič, 5 Jakub Plšek (13 Martin Krameš, 80+1), 7 Marek Krátký (17 Robert Mariotti, 65), 8 Martin Hurka, 9 Dominik Mandula (15 Roman Haša, 78), 11 Tomáš Česlák (C), 12 Matěj Hybš, 14 Filip Twardzik, 18 Patrik Twardzik
Substitutes not used: 1 Jiři Adamuška, 4 Martin Štancl, 10 Adam Kučera
Goals: Jakub Plšek (7)
Head Coach: Jiří Štol
Referee: Stanislav Todorov (BUL)
Assistant Referees: László (HUN) and Sven Erik Midthjell
Fourth Official: Stephan Klossner