Young Lions back in Finals
Monday, 31 May, 2010
A Dean Parrett goal takes England into the last eight of Euros.
UEFA European U19 Championship
Elite Qualifying Round
26-31 May 2010
Click here for fixtures
By Nicholas Veevers
After the triumph of England U17s in Liechtenstein on Sunday, their elder contemporaries now have the chance to match that achievement after securing a place in the Finals of the UEFA European U19 Championship for the third consecutive year.
Noel Blake’s side went into their final Elite Qualifying Round game with hosts Ukraine on Monday knowing that if they avoided defeat it would be enough to see them through into the Finals which are to be held in northern France this summer.
They were certainly made to work hard for it too, with Ukraine really putting them under pressure from the first whistle only to find an England side in resilient mood.
It was backs to the wall stuff throughout the first half, as Ukraine chased the goals which would’ve put them in pole position for a place in the last eight of the competition.
After holding out for the first half, Blake had chance to regroup his team at the break and whilst the pressure was on again in the second half, the longer the game went on, more openings came their way.
That all changed with just less then ten minutes remaining though, when striker Igor Zubko struck Ukraine ahead in the 81st minute.
The host nation knew that they still needed a second goal in order to better England's superior goal difference though and they were caught out just two minutes later, when substitute Andros Townsend crossed from the left to pick out his Tottenham team-mate Dean Parrett at the far side of the area. He made no mistake and drilled a shot past Ihor Levchenko to put England firmly back in the driving seat with his second goal of the Elite Round following his stunning free-kick winner against Ireland last Wednesday.
England were further helped with five minutes remaining when Ukraine were reduced to ten men following a second booking for Yevgeny Zadoya and after four minutes of added time, the final whistle sounded to seal a good result and progression for England.
It also represented a triumphant return to Ukraine for several members of the team, who were part of last year’s squad which reached the Final of the same competition only to lose to Ukraine and miss out on the trophy.