The Young Lions slipped to defeat in their opening game of the European Championships.
UEFA European U19 Championships
Chance Arena, Jablonec, Czech Republic
5.30pm (local time) Monday 14 July 2008
Live on Eurosport
Click here for the full tournament details
England’s European U19 Championship campaign got off to an unfortunate start on Monday evening, when two second half goals saw the Czech Republic win the opening match of the competition in Jablonec.
Despite a late flurry of pressure and possession from the Young Lions, with the hosts reduced to nine men after two late red cards, they couldn’t find a way back into the game against a physically strong and direct Czech outfit.
With an enthusiastic crowd inside the Chance Arena, it was always going to a hard match for Brian Eastick’s team and so it proved right from the first whistle.
To start with, both sides looked nervy and that showed in a relatively uneventful first half, but the game sprung to life in the second half when Slavia Prague striker Tomáš Necid put the home team in control with two quickfire goals.
It could have been different though, as after a fairly tight and tense opening 10 minutes, it was England who registered the first meaningful effort on goal when Scott Sinclair beat the offside trap to skip away on the right and fire a pacy cross into the area. It was cleared as far as Danny Sturridge who neatly side-stepped his man before hitting a solid left footer which was well saved by Tomas Vaclik in the Czech goal.
The hosts, given their considerable size advantage, always looked dangerous from set plays though and they came close to taking the lead after 27 minutes when Necid rose highest to meet Martin Zeman’s corner. His header looked destined for goal only for David Button to make a splendid save and turn it away from danger.
With half time just two minutes away, Czech Republic could have edged ahead when Necid nicked the ball off Krystian Pearce on the edge of the area only to shoot wide of the far post from a tight angle and that proved to be the final chance of the first half.
Less than 10 minutes after the re-start and the deadlock was broken though, when a long ball over the top caused confusion between Pearce and Button and with the Young Lions keeper just outside of the area and unable to pick the ball up, Necid was there to steal the ball off him and roll home into an empty goal.
Three minutes later and the Czechs doubled their advantage, this time from a set-piece. Zeman’s swirling and pacy corner from the right was missed by everybody apart from Necid, who was well placed and in space to volley home from seven yards out.
England responded by introducing Tope Obadeyi to the action just after the hour mark in place of Sinclair, with the Bolton Wanderers striker taking his place up front alongside Sturridge and Freddie Sears dropping a little deeper behind them.
The response was immediate and Sturridge was denied twice in the space of as many seconds when his first effort from Kieran Gibbs’ corner was blocked and then his follow-up shot was cleared off the line by Radim Reznik.
There was a further incentive for the Young Lions after 72 minutes, when Danny Rose was hauled down on the edge of the area by Jakub Heidenreich who received his second caution of the game for a red card. Unfortunately, Sturridge’s shot from the resulting free kick was well saved by Vaclik.
Sears then saw a shot well blocked by Vaclik after he raced onto a through ball in the area from Sturridge.
The Czechs, by now showing an increased aggression in their game, were then reduced to nine men with just over five minutes left when Roman Brunclik received a second booking after reacting badly to the referee’s decision to award a free-kick to England following a foul on substitute Jamie Chandler.
England certainly ended the game the stronger, flighting numerous crosses and passes into the Czech area, but the hosts withstood the pressure to register their first win of the competition.
Czech Republic: Tomas Vaclik, Jan Polák ©, Martin Zeman (Miroslav Stepánek, 86), Jan Hable (Lukas Marecek, 46) Roman Brunclik, Jan Vosahlik (Jan Lecjaks, 76) Jan Moravek, Tomáš Necid, Petr Reinberk, Radim Reznik, Jakub Heidenreich.
Subs not used: Tomas Nuc, Libor Kozák, Michal Barta, Petr Wojnar.
England: David Button, Jack Cork ©, Danny Gosling (Jamie Chandler, 78) James Tomkins, Krystian Pearce, Scott Sinclair (Tope Obadeyi, 64) Kieran Gibbs, Daniel Sturridge, Freddie Sears, Danny Rose, Ryan Bertrand.
Subs not used: Jason Steele, Victor Moses, Fabian Delph, Ben Mee.