Defeat to Norway sees England Under-21s exit Euro 2013 after two games
England 1-3 Norway
UEFA European Under-21 Championship
Group A Match
5pm, Saturday 8 June 2013
HaMoshava Stadium, Petah Tikva
By Jamie Bradbury in Israel
England’s European Under-21 Championship hopes came to a premature end as they were stunned by Norway in Petah Tikva.
Stuart Pearce’s side were put to the sword thanks to three pieces of decisive forward play from the Norwegians, and though they had much of the possession, England failed to make it count.
Fredrik Semb Berge and Jo Inge Berget capitalised on a nervy Three Lions defence to fire Norway into a 2-0 first-half lead, before Magnus Eikrem made it three, sweeping home early in the second half.
Craig Dawson’s penalty pulled a goal back with just over 30 minutes to play, but they just couldn’t break down a solid defensive unit.
The result now means England face hosts Israel in the final Group A game on Tuesday with nothing to play for but pride, before heading home in disappointment.
Pearce’s men knew they needed at least a point to retain their hopes of progressing in the competition, and a victory to keep their future in their own hands.
A much brighter England side than on Wednesday came out at the start and took the game to the Norwegians, with five changes to the team which started against Italy.
Danny Rose was one of those and looked keen to get his team on the front-foot, first cutting in from the left and shooting goalwards, then connecting with Jordan Henderson’s right-wing free-kick. Unfortunately both of the Tottenham Hotspur defender’s attempts went over the bar.
The three-pronged attack of Nathan Redmond, who impressed on his debut against Italy, and the returning Wilfried Zaha and Tom Ince, were looking lively, too.
However, despite making the early running, they were undone from a questionable corner as Norway took a 15th-minute lead. As the ball came in from the left, it fell kindly to Berge, who turned and drilled low past Jack Butland.
The goal stunned the Three Lions, while giving Norway added belief and also something to protect, knowing their tournament was also in the balance.
England began to settle down again and carved out an opportunity on the right when Zaha released Adam Smith into the box. Smith squared towards the penalty spot where Henderson was arriving but a slight nudge in his back sent the Liverpool man to the ground.
Zaha also shot from 18 yards following a Henderson knock-down, but his effort was well off target.
Then it went from bad to worse for the Three Lions when Norway doubled their lead through Berget. Havard Nielsen flicked the ball over Steven Caulker into the England box and the Molde striker was on to it quickly, lashing a first-time volley past Butland.
Trailing by two at the break, Pearce needed to rally his troops. He made one offensive switch, replacing Jason Lowe with Connor Wickham.
Henderson almost benefited from an early attack that saw Ince’s shot deflected wide, but from the corner the ball eventually found the skipper unmarked on the edge of the box and he volleyed back with interest, but Norwegian stopper Orjan Nyland beat it away.
However, the tournament was all but over for England in the 52nd minute when Eikrem made it three.
And it was a simple goal as the Three Lions were pulled apart at the back. Berget won the ball on the right and cruised past Dawson before squaring to the Molde man. He buried beyond Butland with aplomb.
Dawson, however, gave England a lifeline on 57 minutes tucking away an expertly taken penalty after he was fouled when climbing for a header inside the Norway box.
It was the West Brom defender’s sixth goal for Pearce’s men, but they desperately needed more.
However, no matter how much England huffed, Norway held firm. Zaha had a great chance coming in from the left, but his chance was blocked, while two Wickham attempts were unsuccessful.
The first was saved by Nyland, who didn’t put a foot wrong all night, and the second was blocked by a stout Norway challenge.
In the end, though, after a promising run in qualification, England fell short at the main event.
1 Jack Butland, 3 Adam Smith, 4 Steven Caulker, 6 Craig Dawson (5 Andre Wisdom, 84), 11 Danny Rose, 12 Nathaniel Chalobah, 10 Jason Lowe (22 Connor Wickham 46), 16 Tom Ince, 8 Jordan Henderson, 19 Nathan Redmond (18 Jonjo Shelvey, 67), 15 Wilfried Zaha
Subs not used: 13 Jason Steele, 23 Declan Rudd, 2 Nathaniel Clyne, 7 Tom Lees, 9 Jack Robinson, 14 Josh McEachran, 20 Nathan Delfouneso, 21 Marvin Sordel.
Head Coach Stuart Pearce
Goal Craig Dawson (p) 57
Bookings Nathaniel Chalobah 90
12 Orjan Nyland Haskjold, 3 Thomas Rogne (15 Håvard Nordtveit, 83), 4 Stefan Strandberg, 6 Omar Elabdellaoui, 7 Harmeet Singh, 8 Jo Inge Berget, 10 Marcus Pedersen, 11 Håvard Nielsen, 14 Fredrik Semb Berge (2 Martin Linnes, 57), 18 Magnus Eikrem (22 Abdissalam Ibrahim, 68), 20 Stefan Johansen
Subs not used: 1 Arild Østbø, 9 Valon Berisha, 13 Markus Henriksen, 16 Yann-Erik de Lanlay, 17 Anders Konradssen, 19 Flamur Kastrati, 21 Joshua King, 23 Gudmund Kongshavn
Coach Tor Ole Skullerud
Goals: Fredrik Semb Berge 15, Jo Inge Berget 34
Bookings Fredrik Semb Berge 57,
Referee Sergii Boiko (UKR)
Assistant Referees: Haralds Gudermanis (LVA) and Dzmitry Zhuk (BLR)
Fourth Official: Sando Pozzi (SWI)
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