Young Lions denied by late Swiss strike
Tuesday, 21 July, 2009
Joe Mattock's strike cancelled out in second half stoppage time in Donetsk.
Nicholas Veevers in Donetsk
England U19s kicked off their Euro 2009 campaign on Tuesday evening, but were denied victory by a late stoppage time goal by Switzerland.
On a warm and pleasant evening in Donetsk, the Young Lions were desperately unlucky not to get off to the winning start that Head Coach Brian Eastick had hoped for after Joe Mattock’s free kick had seen them in front for the majority of the game, only for a goal in injury time seeing the Swiss draw level for what seemed an unlikely point.
It was a game England largely controlled in terms of possession and creativity, but with just a one goal lead to protect, there was always a danger and the Young Lions were made to pay in the cruellest fashion.
While Switzerland never really created any clear opportunities, they were a constant threat from set pieces and threw everything at the Lions in the last ten minutes and it was from a dead ball that they drew level
England certainly started the game well, enjoying some good early possession with Nile Ranger proving a handful for the Swiss defence in particular, winning a corner in the third minute after his earlier shot had been blocked in the area.
Aside from that though, the game was largely tight and controlled until Mattock’s free kick from the right forced Swiss goalkeeper Oliver Klaus into a desperate punch away in the 21st minute, after Kyle Walker had been fouled following a strong run down the right.
It was a set piece which saw England take the lead too, when Ranger was fouled on the edge of the area whilst challenging for an aerial ball. The Swiss weren’t happy about the decision, but Mattock showed no mercy and struck a low shot into the bottom corner to put the Young Lions ahead.
With no changes made by either team at the break, England continued in the second half where they had left off in the first by attacking the Swiss.
A flowing move in the 52nd minute which involved Mattock, Dan Gosling and Matthew James eventually saw the ball worked to Danny Welbeck in the area but after skilfully beating Michael Lang, he just ran out of room and the ball drifted out of play.
England still had to be wary of the Swiss threat though and Gavin Hoyte had to make a finely timed tackle in the area to nick the ball away from big striker Orhan Mustafi, who had proved a physical threat throughout the game.
The Swiss were forced to scramble the ball clear from their six yard area just shy of the hour mark when Henri Lansbury’s corner was knocked down towards Ranger. It just wouldn’t drop for the big striker though and that allowed Switzerland chance to clear.
Welbeck came agonisingly close to adding a second goal in the 65th minute when a quickly taken free kick and pass from Lansbury sent him clear into the box. He clipped a neat shot over Klaus and it was heading for the far corner, until Francois Affolter somehow stretched out a foot to clear it off the line and wide of the post.
A great counter attacking move from England a few minutes later saw James and Welbeck trade passes in the centre circle before the latter picked out Lansbury on the right. His centre went back to Welbeck, before Ranger got in on the act only to find himself outcrowded in the area and dispossessed.
Switzerland were still looking dangerous though, particularly from set pieces with captain Daniel Unal knocking one dangerous ball into the centre which fortunately drifted behind the goal and a corner soon after that was glanced narrowly wide of the far post by Fabio Daprela.
Captain Jason Steele was then forced into a brave block in the area, as Switzerland continued to press for an equaliser.
Steele was to be beaten though, in the first minute of stoppage time when Swiss midfielder Sebastien Wutrich smashed a low free kick from 30 yards past the England keeper and into the corner of the net.
The Young Lions are next in action when they take on hosts Ukraine on Friday, at Shakhtar Donetsk’s Olimpiyski Stadium.