Rodwell rocket earns point for England
Monday, 22 June, 2009
Stuart Pearce's side draw 1-1 with Germany in Halmstad.
Jamie Bradbury in Halmstad
A fresh-looking England came from behind to earn a point against Germany in Halmstad and take the top spot in Group B, while their opponents go through to the last four as runners-up.
Gonzalo Castro opened the scoring inside five minutes but Jack Rodwell’s bullet header was enough to earn the point and from then on The Three Lions looked dominant.
Stuart Pearce made ten changes from the win over Spain, including a debut for Andrew Driver and first starts for Jack Rodwell and Danny Rose. And when Joe Lewis replaced Scott Loach in goal at half-time, it meant that all of England’s 23-strong squad have appeared in Sweden.
Early pressure from England looked promising as Rose and James Tomkins both had efforts. But in the German’s first attack, Jerome Boateng played a defence-splitting pass through the middle to Castro, who’d neatly evaded the offside trap. The Bayern Leverkusen striker, who was in the side England beat in the play-off for the 2007 Finals, tucked the ball away through the legs of Scott Loach.
But England didn’t drop their heads after such an early blow and found a couple of quick openings in a soft German back four.
Rodwell and Captain, Craig Gardner, both had free headers inside the six yard box, the Everton man’s going over, while Gardner’s was saved. Then Richard Stearman raided down the right flank and, linking up with Gardner, almost found space for the shot, but went to ground.
England, wearing their change strip of red, kept knocking on the door and were keen to show Pearce that they are more than able replacements. And when they won a corner on the left just before the 30-minute mark, Gardner’s in-swinger was met by Rodwell’s powerful header, which arrowed past Manuel Neuer for his second goal for the Under-21s.
Rodwell was clearly enjoying his first start at this level. When he collected a loose ball on the halfway line shortly after and drove forward into German territory as the defence backed off. Reaching the area, he made space but his shot flew over the bar.
The Three Lions were looking comfortable now, after conceding early, and with a foothold in the game pushed on with Rose and Driver both causing a threat with their close ball control and sharp turn of pace.
But Pearce was sensing another win with England controlling possession and with just over half-an-hour left, gave Theo Walcott another run, this time in place of Frazier Campbell. Soon after Kieran Gibbs came on for Driver. The Arsenal full-back pushed forward into an advanced midfield role.
Stearman came close to scoring his first goal for the Under-21s, swinging at a Rose corner at the far post but it was blocked and turned away for a corner. Adam Johnson was on the end of the clearance from the next centre, looping a shot toward the top corner from 20 yards, but it was easy pickings for Neuer.
The point was enough to confirm England’s place as group winners and set up a semi-final against the runners-up in Group A in Gothenburg on Friday night.
22 Scott Loach (13 Joe Lewis, 46), 3 Andrew Taylor, 5 Richard Stearman, 16 James Tomkins, 18 Michael Mancienne, 15 Jack Rodwell, 8 Craig Gardner, 11 Adam Johnson, 20 Andrew Driver (19 Kieran Gibbs, 71), 23 Danny Rose, 21 Fraizer Campbell (14 Theo Walcott, 58)
Substitutes not used
1 Joe Hart, 2 Martin Cranie, 9 Gabriel Agbonlahor, 6 Nedum Onuoha, 17 Micah Richards, 4 Lee Cattermole, 10 Mark Noble, 12 Fabrice Muamba
1 Manuel Neuer, 5 Jerome Boateng, 2 Andreas Beck, 4 Benedikt Howedes, 21 Marcel Schmeizer, 19 Anis Ben-Hatira (11 Marko Marin, 68), 20 Gonzalo Castro, 7 Patrick Ebert (6 Dennis Aogo, 86), 8 Sami Khedira, 10 Mesut Ozil, 9 Ashkan Dejagah.
Substitutes not used
12 Florian Fromlowitz, 23 Tobias Sippel, 16 Daniel Schwaab, 15 Mats Hummels, 18 Daniel Adlung, 17 Dennis Grote, 14 Fabian Johnson, 22 Chinedu Ede, 13 Sandro Wagner.
Head Coach Stuart Pearce
Referee Peter Rasmussen