Young Lions through to last four
Thursday, 18 June, 2009
A 2-0 win over Spain sends England into the Semi-Final of Euro 2009.
Jamie Bradbury in Gothenburg
England booked their place in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship Semi-Final with a confident 2-0 win over Spain in Gothenburg.
Second-half strikes from Fraizer Campbell and James Milner ensured Stuart Pearce’s side’s qualification for the knock out stage with two wins from their opening two games.
With Micah Richards recovering from the knee injury sustained in the second half against Finland, Pearce made two changes to his previous starting line-up. Nedum Onuoha had also overcome his fitness concerns, coming in to replace the suspended Michael Mancienne. Meanwhile, Adam Johnson started on the left wing in place of Theo Walcott.
An early chance for Gabriel Agbonlahor inside the first 25 seconds, off a low shot from Milner, just missed Sergio Asenjo’s post. Milner’s cross from the left a short while later was dangerous, almost dropping inside the far post, but drifted out for a throw.
But England almost handed Spain a gift of a goal on 13 minutes when a heavy Nedum Onuoha back pass went away from Joe Hart towards goal. The Manchester City stopper had to scramble backwards to clear from the line.
Both sides had spells of possession but while the Spanish had Jose Manuel Jurado and Bojan Krkic looking for the holes, Milner and Johnson were linking well on the left. Four more crosses from either side from the Villa wide-man caused problems. The first two were plucked out of the sky by Asenjo, then one was turned away by the head of a defender for a corner and Milner's delivery back into play then dropped nicely for Richards at the back post, but England couldn’t find a gap to force home.
Bojan also had one sight on goal after finding space in behind the impressive Lee Cattermole, but he choked his shot wide.
Then England were presented with a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the 32nd minute. Javi Garcia was caught in possession by Milner on the edge of the box, Milner twisted inside and was tripped by the Real Madrid defender.
Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers pointed to the spot and Milner brushed himself off to take the kick. But his duel with Asenjo continued as the 'keeper guessed right, diving low to his right to keep out the spot-kick. An unusual denial for Milner who regularly finds the net in training.
Bojan almost made The Three Lions pay just four minutes later when he and Jurado played a neat one-two in a dangerous area on the edge of England’s box. Setting himself nicely the little Barcelona star bent a fierce effort towards goal which just missed Hart’s upright.
Pearce was dealt another injury blow just before the break. Agbonlahor, who had been limping for a few minutes, hobbled off with shin trouble and was eventually replaced by Fraizer Campbell.
Kieran Gibbs also picked up a knock early in the second half which required treatment and he was still walking gingerly when Javi Martinez chased his own knock-on into Gibbs’ corner. After going past the Arsenal full-back, Joe Hart came racing out of the box and got nowhere near the Bilbao midfielder. Martinez looked up and from a tight angle rolled across the goal, but with no red shirts in the area, Martin Cranie was able to hook away.
Just after the hour mark Adam Johnson made way for Walcott which bought cheers from the full house inside the Gamla Ullevi.
Walcott’s pace began to concern the Spanish defence as England put them under more pressure. And when Milner won possession on England's right he played in Campbell 200 yards out. He took his time to open the space before delivering a crisp, low, left-foot strike inside the post to put England in front.
Within six minutes it was 2-0. Spain were pushing forward, but England kept them out as Captain Noble carried forward. The ball eventually found Walcott on the left and he switched on the boosters to power past Javi Garcia and into the box.
With the defence at sixes and sevens, Walcott squared to pick out Milner arriving unmarked eight yards out. This time he drove hard, making no mistake and giving Asenjo no chance.
A Milner booking in the closing stages means that he’ll miss the next game, but it won’t matter too much to England who, despite seeing Spain make hopeful attempts late on without success, have booked their place in the Semi-Final with a game to spare.
With England now meeting Germany in the last of their three group games, Pearce’s team can leave it to them and Spain to fight it out for the other last four berth - but it doesn't look good for the Spanish.
1 Joe Hart, 2 Martin Cranie, 19 Kieran Gibbs, 6 Nedum Onuoha, 17 Micah Richards, 10 Mark Noble (C), 4 Lee Cattermole, 12 Fabrice Muamba, 11 Adam Johnson (14 Theo Walcott, 62) 7 James Milner (8 Craig Gardner, 84) 9 Gabriel Agbonlahor (21 Fraizer Campbell, 39)
Substitutes 3 Andrew Taylor, 5 Richard Stearman, 13 Joe Lewis, 15 Jack Rodwell, 16 James Tomkins, 20 Andrew Driver, 22 Scott Loach, 23 Danny Rose.
Head Coach Stuart Pearce
13 Sergio Asenjo, 3 Nacho Monreal, 4 Javi Garcia, 5 Marc Torrejon, 6 Javi Martinez (19 Xisco, 69), 8 Raul Garcia (C), 9 Bojan Krkic (17 Diego Capel, 57), 10 Jose Manuel Jurado, 12 Cesar Azpilicueta, 18 Mario Suarez (22 Pedro Leon, 81) 21 Adrian Lopez
Substitutes 1 Roberto, 23 Antonio Adan, 2 Miguel Torres, 7 Sisi, 11 Esteban Granero, 14 Sergio Sanchez, 15 Chico, 16 Ivan Marcano, 20 Jonathan Pereira.
Head Coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro
Referee Bjorn Kuipers
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