England U19s hero Lewis Baker happy to get a draw in Euro qualifying opener
by Jamie Reid
Goalscorer Lewis Baker says that despite feeling England were deserving of the point his late strike against Slovenia earned them - it was a big relief not to lose the game.
Noel Blake’s side fell behind to an early Maks Barišič strike and trailed for much of the second half until Baker - alert to a Josh Murphy shot - controlled a loose ball and slotted home from close range.
The Chelsea midfielder admitted the Young Lions will need to hit the ground running in their remaining two games if they are to take a step further in realising their goal of qualifying for the UEFA European U19 Championship Finals in Hungary.
Baker said: “I think that in the first half we didn’t play as we could have, but in the second half we dug in and got the draw.
“We all know that in the first half we didn’t give our best, we didn’t work hard enough – I think we’re definitely going to improve for the next two games.”
Despite Baker’s goal coming with just five minutes to go, England dominated for large periods of the second half - harrying and hurrying their hosts, and controlling possession.
According to Baker, he and his team-mates must build on the positive second-half display and show the same energy for the remaining 180 minutes of football ahead of them.
He explained: “We need to keep up work rate we had in the second half and show the desire we had when we were chasing the game, for the whole game.
As the clock wound down, and England continued to struggle to find a way through a resolute and disciplined Slovenia backline, Baker insisted he knew that if the visitors continued to probe, they would get the break eventually.
Baker added: “I thought they played well. Credit to them, they played very well in the first half – but we did well to come back in the second half, and like I said, we just need to make sure we do that for the whole game next time.
“We had to keep fighting and fighting, and we knew that eventually a chance would come. That chance did come and luckily we got a draw today, but I think we definitely deserved it.”
England now have a day’s rest on Friday, before heading back into action against Andorra on Saturday.
Following Switzerland’s 4-0 defeat of the Young Lions’ next opponents, it’s a game Baker knows England must win, and win well.
“Andorra next, we’re just concentrating on that game now. We’re going to watch them and see what we can do to improve ourselves today."