England U18s pulled off a remarkable victory over a highly rated Germany side, coming from behind to win in Rotherham.
Neil Dewsnip’s side dominated the first half but suffered the consequences of a rare lapse when Patrick Pflucke stole in to score from close range.
But two second-half substitutes, Dean Rittenberg - with his first touch - and Harry Winks, delivered the goals to send a 9,119 crowd into rapture.
England 2-1 Germany
An U18 International
Wednesday 16 April
New York Stadium, Rotherham United
New York is such a great city that they named it twice, but Rotherham’s New York Stadium might just be half as good, and looked resplendent in the springtime sunshine ahead of kick-off.
It took its name from Rotherham’s old Guest and Chrimes Foundry, which made the distinctive fire hydrants dotted around the Big Apple.
Dewsnip set up his side with a strong core, building on the speed and reliability of MK Dons’s Brendan Galloway and Reading’s Robert Dickie at centre-half, with Alex Gilliead and skipper Bryn Morris providing the steel in midfield.
The Young Lions head coach fielded Tottenham’s Nathan Oduwa, a powerfully built and skilful winger by trade, behind target man Bradley Fewster. And Oduwa carried the main threat, shifting the ball from foot to foot and possessing the strength to drift clear of his markers.
Nevertheless the match started quietly, even if the play was crisp and easy on the eye, and it was not until the 15th minute when the first shot was fired.
Oduwa slipped his man and teed up Ryan Kent, who had drifted in off the right wing. Kent’s shot was well-placed but Marius Funk saved easily.
Minutes later Arlen Birch did well to intercept a Germany pass and broke through free down the right flank. The Everton right-back’s cross was well-directed but too firm for Fewster, who could only bundle the ball into Funk’s grasp.
Then against the run of play Germany took the lead. Pflucke caught the England defence square and ran on to an angled through ball. Ted Smith came out to close the angle but the striker lifted his finish into the net.
England came close to hitting back almost immediately after, with Birch picking out Kent with a chipped through-ball, and Oduwa bringing down a crisp pass into the centre. He made space to shoot but fired over the stanchion from 15 yards out.
The home side looked to be meandering through the second half when on 74 minutes Dewsnip made the changes that turned the game.
Rittenberg came on for Branden Barker on the left flank and Reece Burke replaced Birch.
Then seconds later Oduwa cushioned a throw-in from the right-hand side on his chest, and from the byline volleyed a cross into the area. Blackburn forward Rittenberg dashed in from the left flank and left his marker for dead, flicking his header into the far corner.
He then laid on the second, collecting Oduwa's through ball, and picking out Winks's late dart into the box. The Spurs midfielder shot firmly past Funk.
Fewster then came close to adding a third, narrowly missing a chance to connect with a right-wing cross, as England rounded off their U18 campaign with an outstanding victory.
England Under-18 (4-2-3-1): 1 Ted Smith (Southend United); 2 Arlen Birch (Everton), 5 Robert Dickie (Reading), 6 Brendan Galloway (MK Dons), 3 Ashley Smith-Brown (Man City); 4 Bryn Morris (C; Middlesbrough), 8 Alex Gilliead (Newcastle Utd); 7 Ryan Kent (Liverpool), 10 Nathan Oduwa (Tottenham), 11 Branden Barker (Man City); 9 Bradley Fewster (Middlesbrough).
Substitutes: 16 Harry Winks (Tottenham) on for Gilliead 66, 15 Reece Burke (West Ham) on for Birch 74, 17 Dean Rittenberg (Blackburn Rovers) on for Barker 74, 12 Reece Brown (Birmingham City) on for Oduwa, 87; 14 William Miller (Tottenham) on for Kent 87.
Substitutes not used: 13 Callum Burton (GK; Shrewsbury).
Goals: Rittenberg 74, Winks 82.
Head coach: Neil Dewsnip
Germany (4-4-2): 1 Marius Funk; 2 Yanni Regasel, 4 Steffen Nkansah, 5 Jonas Fohrenbach, 3 Fohrenbach; 7 Lucas Cueto, 8 Marti Risti (C), 11 Boubacar Barry; 9 Sinan Kurt, 10 Patrick Pflucke.
Substitutes: 19 Jannik Dehm (for Regasel, ht), 18 Nadiem Amiri (on for Pflucke, 69), 16 Dominik Kinscher for Cueto.
Substitutes not used: 12 Fritz Pflug (GK), 13 Gorkem Ure, 14 Lucas Scholl, 15 Malte Moos, 17 Pierre Fassnacht, 23 Nils Korber.
Goals: Pflucke 38
Head coach: Horst Hrubesch
Referee: David Webb