Young Lions' World Cup dream over
Monday, 04 July, 2011
Late fightback against Germany not enough to progress beyond Quarter Final.
By James Marshall in Morelia
England's World Cup dream was cruelly ended in Mexico, as Germany's unforgiving finishing proved the difference between the sides in Morelia on Monday afternoon.
John Peacock's team found themselves 3-0 down early in the second half, with the scoreline certainly flattering the Germans but that inspired a fight-back from the Young Lions as goals from Sam Magri and Hallam Hope made it an interesting end to the game.
There was plenty of late pressure from England as they looked to force the tie into a penalty shoot-out but Steffen Freund's side hung on and now take their place in the Semi-Final.
Head Coach Peacock, who tasted disappointment at the hands of Germany at the same stage of the World Cup four years ago in Korea, made two changes to his side from the Second Stage victory over Argentina in Pachuca with Alex Henshall and John Lundstram replacing Nick Powell and Blair Turgott in the starting line-up.
England started the better of the two sides in the opening five minutes of the match too with half-chances falling to captain Nat Chalobah and Lundstram.
However, it was Germany who made the breakthrough as a long ball straight over the top wasn’t fully cleared by either Chalobah or Jordan Pickford and it landed perfectly in the path of Samed Yesil, with the Bayer Leverkusen youngster left with the simple task of tapping home to put his side a goal up against the run of play.
It didn’t dent England's confidence though, as Raheem Sterling tried to drag his side back level by cutting inside from the right flank and hitting a stinging shot with his left foot that forced goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos into a smart save.
Mintues later, Hope came even closer to equalising when his low strike from the edge of the box went inches wide of Vlachodimos' post.
Germany went close again shortly afterwards, a smart turn by goalscorer Yesil saw him create space for himself before his shot bounced back off Pickford’s right-hand post. It was another let off for England, as the Germans continued to look dangerous on the counter attack.
It got worse for Peacock’s side three minutes later, when Kaan Ayhan made it 2-0. England failed to clear a corner fully and when the ball fell to Marvin Duksch, his mis-hit shot was diverted home by Schalke’s Ayhan, who was in the right place at thr right time to put his side in control.
Germany could certainly consider themselves fortunate to be two ahead and the second goal no doubt took the sting out of England’s enthusiastic start meaning they weren’t able to claw a strike back before half time.
Peacock made one change at the break to try and inject some life into his young side, with Crewe’s Nick Powell coming on to replace Alex Henshall in midfield.
Germany started the better of the two teams as they got the second half underway though, with Pickford making a good save from a looping German corner.
However, it was England who had the first major chance of the second half, when Chalobah produced a fantastic bicycle-kick at goal only to see Vlachodimos produce an equally spectacular save to keep England at bay. Moments later, another Sterling cross was headed wide by Hope.
Unfortunately for England, as Germany did for the first two goals, they kept their nerve under pressure and hit the Young Lions on the counter attack for a third time. It was the impressive Yesil again, as he got his second of the game, by tapping the ball home from Mitchell Weiser's centre.
Going three goals down was a tremendous test for Peacock’s side as they kept trying to peg Germany side back and Sam Magri came very close to getting a life-line only to blaze over the bar from a few yards out after Jake Caskey's free-kick from the right picked him out in acres of space.
Magri didn't have to wait much long though, as a few minutes later Powell was brought down in the penalty and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Magri made amends for his earlier miss, with a calmly placed penalty past Vlachodimos.
Peacock's men tried everything to claw another goal back and make the last ten minutes of the match very interesting and it came through Hope in the 83rd minute. It was a shocking error from Duksch, as his casual back-heel outside the area allowed substitute Nathan Redmond a sniff of the ball. He obliged and promptly whipped a shot at goal which Vlacodimos could only parry and the Everton striker was there to stab the ball home from close range.
England duly piled pressure on the Germans, who were now hanging on to their lead and bereft of the composure they had shown previously. It just wasn't to be though, as Freund's men clung on and claimed their place in the Semi-Final.
It was a thrilling end to the game though and the Young Lions will certainly come home from Mexico having learnt a great deal from their World Cup adventure.