England cruise into Euro semi-final
Monday, 27 July, 2009
7-1 win for Young Lions sets new Euro record.
Nicholas Veevers at Metalurh Stadium
England sealed their place in the semi-final of the European U19 Championships in some style, with a convincing win and a record scoreline at this age group against Group A rivals Slovenia.
The Young Lions knew that a win of any description would be enough to seal their place in the last four but a clinical first half display blew any doubts out of the window as five goals, followed by two more in the second half and all stunningly dispatched, blew away a Slovenia side who still had a chance of progression themselves with a victory.
Henri Lansbury started the rout and then played a key role in the first hour by setting up the next two goals for Matthew Briggs and Danny Welbeck in what was a fine performance from the Arsenal midfielder. It was a decent all-round team display from Brian Eastick’s side though and they will now head into Thursday's semi-final against France with confidence.
Ironically, it was Slovenia who had the first chance of the game in the seventh minute as Armend Spreco collected a loose ball 25 yards from and traded passes with skipper Rajko Rep to break into the box. He tried to slide a low shot home, but Jason Steele was out bravely and quickly to make a good save.
They were made to pay for that miss too, as England took a 10th minute lead with a fine goal. The move started on the right with Kieran Trippier, who intercepted well before advancing forward and then switching the play to Nathan Delfouneso on the left. He tricked his way inside before playing a pass into the area. Welbeck flicked it back to Lansbury and he crashed home a stunning shot into the top corner.
England capitalised on their good start to the game and doubled their lead in the 19th minute. The Young Lions won a free-kick on the right following a foul on Delfouneso and when Slovenia goalkeeper Matej Radan got nowhere near Lansbury’s free-kick, Matthew Briggs was there at the far post to head home and put his side in firm control.
Slovenia still had to be watched though and they missed a fabulous chance to pull one back when defender Anel Omerovic headed wide from close range when connecting with Rep’s corner.
Again, England made them pay and within a minute Welbeck had made it 3-0 after collecting a pass from Lansbury and breaking clear into the area. Radan came storming out but the striker calmly curled the ball over and above him and into the roof of the net.
Welbeck didn’t have long to wait for his second and in the 31st minute he had made it four. A burst forward by Andrew Tutte from midfield saw him clip a pass over the Slovenian defence and Welbeck was there to slot home an almost identical finish to his first.
Slovenia were then dealt a blow in the 36th minute, when defender Boban Jovic was shown a straight red card, his second dismissal of the tournament, for a fierce looking challenge on Lansbury. The right-back couldn’t even walk back to the dressing room, as he was stretchered off after injuring himself in process.
That gave further impetus to England and it was 5-0 in the 37th minute when Delfouneso skilfully controlled and juggled the ball in the area from another Lansbury flag-kick before volleying home on the turn and helping the Lions put one foot into the semi-final.
England will have been disappointed with their start to the second half though, as a ball over the top was picked up by Dejan Dimitrov and he cut inside from the left before firing a low shot past Steele and into the corner to give his team some consolation.
It looked as though there would be more goals in it for England too, with Welbeck and Murphy both seeing shots well saved by Radan, before Joe Bennett embarked on a jinking run from the left and into the box, where his eventual shot was well saved by the Slovenian stopper.
More worrying for England by this stage was the conduct of the Slovenian players, who seemed more intent on kicking anything that moved with Lansbury taken off more in protection after yet another robust attempt at tackling him.
England answered in the best possible way though, as substitute Andros Townsend crossed into the centre for Delfouneso to sweep home his second from close range.
Substitute Nile Ranger then got in on the act, when he ran through into the box and slid a shot past Radan to make it seven with more than 15 minutes still to play.
There were further chances for England too, Tutte was unfortunate to see a shot hit the bar after good work by Murphy and Delfouneso came close to a hat-trick but his effort went wide from close range. Bennett’s free-kick was then superbly saved by Radan for what would have been a goal on his full debut.
There couldn't be any complaints though, as the Lions had more than done their job and knew their Euro adventure would continue further into the week.