Barkley banks semi spot
Friday, 21 May, 2010
A Ross Barkley header sinks Greece and sends England in Euro semis.
UEFA European U17 Championship
By Glenn Lavery in Liechtenstein
A bullet header from Ross Barkley booked England a place in the semi-final of the UEFA European U17 Championship Finals after his goal allowed John Peacock’s side to beat Greece 1-0 in their second Group B match.
On 35 minutes Barkley galloped into the box to meet Luke Garbutt’s teasing left-wing cross and he rose above Charalampos Lykogiannis to thunder his header into the back of the net for his second goal at these Finals.
With Turkey and Czech Republic drawing 1-1 earlier in the day, this victory, allied to the win picked up against the Czechs on Tuesday, means England head into the final group match on six points unable to be caught.
Before the game Peacock made one change to the team that defeated Czech Republic with Conor Coady, now available after suspension, coming in to captain the side in midfield in place of George Thorne, while Saido Berahino took his place on the bench, having arrived in Liechtenstein late on Tuesday night to replace Chuks Aneke.
Peacock also slightly changed his system from the first game as Josh McEachran foraged in behind Connor Wickham with Benik Afobe taking McEachran’s place on the left of a three-pronged attack. This alteration almost paid dividends as early as the eighth minute when McEachran slipped the ball into the area for Wickham to attack but his left-foot shot was repelled bravely by Stefanos Kapino at his near post. With England in control early on, Nathaniel Chalobah was the next player to come close, heading Will Keane’s corner just wide at the far post.
Although England were just on top, Charalampos Mavrias looked bright for Greece on the right flank, exhibiting some exciting wing play, and he even entertained the crowd with a double drag-back, reminiscent of Zinedine Zidane in his pomp. He also swung in a deep corner which Sam Johnstone did well to claw away.
Greece enjoyed a spell of possession after this corner although England held firm at the back, with the large frame of Wickham giving the Greek defenders cause for concern every time the ball went near him.
After Coady had called Kapino into action once more, just before the half-an-hour mark some neat footwork from McEachran afforded him a yard of space on the edge of the Greek box and with Afobe on his left and Wickham in space on his right, the midfielder picked the wrong pass, as Afobe was hounded out by the Greek defence. Soon after, McEachran did feed Wickham inside the box, however, the now-limping Kapino got down smartly to block.
However, there was nothing Kapino could do about England’s opener five minutes before the break and it was a goal created in Everton but finished in Vaduz. Toffees’ left-back, and birthday boy, Garbutt skipped down the left and stood up a beautiful centre which his on-rushing club-mate Barkley met in the air at full pelt and he powered his header into the top corner.
Picking the ball out of the net was to be Kapino’s final act of the match as he was replaced by Serafeim Giannikoglou shortly after the goal and had Afobe’s header, from another Garbutt cross, been more accurate Giannikoglou’s first action could also have been to collect the ball from the Greek goal.
England made their first change ten minutes into the second half with Rob Hall replacing Afobe and the West Ham forward was asked to operate on the right wing, just like he did against Czech Republic, with Keane switched out to the left.
Greece knew defeat would mean elimination and they appeared determined to extend their stay in Liechtenstein with Fotios Kaimakamoudis heading just wide from six yards out and then testing Johnstone from distance. On 58 minutes Kaimakamoudis then had a hand in Greece’s best chance of the match, laying the ball off for Georgios Katidis who drove a low shot narrowly wide from just short of 25 yards.
England’s best chances were being created by the guile and artistry of McEachran and after he fed another through ball into the box it took a fine sliding block from Konstantinos Rougkalas to deny Keane a clean strike at goal.
Wickham had battled gamely upfront on his own all night but after his first-half effort, his next clear sight at goal didn’t come until the 64th minute after he brought a Bruno Pilatos cross down on the 18-yard line before sending his shot wide of the post. The goalscorer, Barkley, attempted a similar strike minutes later but had to watch his left-foot shot be turned behind for a corner by Giannikoglou.
With the game heading towards its conclusion, Leonidas Vokolos’s side tried a few long-range shots in an attempt to level the scores, but their efforts were in vein and, although far from vintage, England can now look forward to a European semi-final next Thursday.
1 Stefanos Kapino (12 Serafeim Giannikoglou, 40+1), 3 Charalampos Lykogiannis, 4 Konstantinos Rougkalas, 5 Mavroudis Bougaidis (2 Vasileios Karagkounis, 12), 8 Spyridon Fourlanos, 9 Dimitrios Diamantakos (C), 10 Christos Panagiotis (19 Konstantinos Stafylidis, 52), 14 Nikolaos Marinakis, 16 Fotios Kaimakamoudis, 17 Charalampos Mavrias, 18 Georgios Katidis
Substitutes not used 7 Ioannis Gianniotas, 11 Nikolaos Kousidis, 15 Christos Provatidis
Head Coach Leonidas Vokolos
1 Sam Johnstone, 2 Bruno Pilatos, 3 Luke Garbutt, 4 Conor Coady (C), 5 Nathaniel Chalobah, 6 Andre Wisdom, 7 Will Keane (18 Luke Williams, 73), 9 Benik Afobe (11 Rob Hall, 51), 15 Josh McEachran (8 George Thorne, 80+1), 16 Ross Barkley, 17 Connor Wickham
Substitutes not used 13 Jack Butland, 10 Saido Berahino, 12 Ben Gibson, 14 Tom Thorpe
Goals Ross Barkley (35)
Head Coach John Peacock
Referee Artyom Kuchin (KAZ)
Assistant Referees Matej Žunic (SVN) and Roland Brandner (AUT)
Fourth Official Alain Bieri (SUI)