England edge Czech Republic in opening Euro qualifier

Wednesday 26 Mar 2014
England U17s won their opening Euro qualifier by a single goal

Chelsea duo Dominic Solanke and Izzy Brown combined to secure England U17s a vital victory in their opening Elite Round qualifier.

After riding their luck during the opening 20 minutes, the Young Lions upped their game to overcome a tough opponent and get off to a winning start over host nation Czech Republic.

John Peacock's side started somewhat nervously in front of a vocal home support, although they did have the first chance of the game on three minutes. Ryan Ledson floated a corner towards the back post towards his Everton team-mate Callum Connolly, but he could only head wide from eight yards.


Czech Republic 0-1 England

UEFA European U17 Championship
Elite Qualifying Round
Wednesday 26 March
Stonky, Uherske Hradiste, Czech Republic



Apart from that, the visitors struggled to mount an attack as Czech Republic's forward players proved to be dangerous, especially the counter-attacking threat of Ajax striker Vaclav Cerny, Juventus winger Roman Macek and the pacey Jiri Klima.

With nine minutes on the clock Brown was tackled on halfway line and the ball was quickly fed to Klima who could only fire wide.

Then Cerny was in the thick of it, and he had the whole stadium up on its feet as he came within inches of scoring an unbelievable opener. Perhaps inspired by Wayne Rooney's goal at the weekend, he hit a shot from the halfway line that looked to be creeping under the crossbar before Freddie Woodman managed to leap and knock it over at the last moment.

As the half progressed England looked to have weathered the storm as they began to retain possession, and some good link-up play between Solanke and Adam Armstrong saw the latter thunder a strike from the edge of the box that the keeper did well to tip wide of the post.

We began to enjoy more of the ball as the half-time break approached, but went in level at the break.

The second half started much more positively for Peacock's youngsters as they silenced the crowd and hardly allowed their opponents out of their own half. They were pressing at every turn, not allowing the Czech's any time on the ball, and retaining possession well when they had it, creating two half chances.

A breakthrough was coming, and it was good work from Brown that created the opener on 53 minutes for Blues team-mate Solanke.

Defender David Stepanek was closed down by Brown on the edge of his area, and the striker nicked the ball before racing clear and firing at goal from the right. The goalkeeper was powerless to stop it as it travelled across his goal before hitting the inside of the post, resting perfectly for Solanke to tap home.

Demetri Mitchell was introduced to the action in place of Josh Sims, and he nearly doubled the advantage with his first touch. The Manchester United youngster picked up possession 40 yards out and embarked on a run, unleashing a powerful drive that whistled inches wide of the upright.

Then, with eight minutes left on the clock, Solanke played in Armstrong who could only shoot right-footed into the side-netting.

As the seconds ticked by the hosts pushed further forward, but the resilient England defence refused to give them an inch, and they held firm to secure a vital opening-day victory.

Czech Republic (4-4-2): 1 David Zalesky, 2 Jan Zarsky, 5 David Stepanek, 12 Jakub Tersl, 6 Martin Chlumecky, 15 Kristopher Twardek, 8 Jiri Januska, 7 Roman Macek, 18 Daniel Trubac, 11 Jiri Klima, 10 Vaclav Cerny (C)

Substitutes: 17 Ondrej Mihalik for Twardek (40)

Substitutes not used: 16 Jan Stejskal, 3 Matej Pulkrab, 4 Josef Kvida, 9 Ondrej Badocha, 13 Vojtech Cmelik, 14 Michal Bilek

Bookings: Cerny (60)

Head Coach: Ales Cvancara

England: (4-2-3-1): 1 Freddie Woodman (Newcastle United); 3 Callum Connolly (Everton), 2 Tafari Moore (Arsenal), 5 Joseph Gomez (Charlton Athletic), 6 Dael Fry (Middlesbrough); 4 Ryan Ledson (C) (Everton), 14 Lewis Cook (Leeds United); 17 Josh Sims (Southampton), 11 Izzy Brown (Chelsea); 9 Adam Armstrong (Newcastle United); 10 Dominic Solanke (Chelsea)

Substitutes: 7 Demetri Mitchell (Manchester United) for Sims (58), 16 Callum Cooke (Middlesbrough) for Brown (74)

Substitutes not used: 13 Sam Howes (West Ham United), 8 Joshua Onomah (Tottenham Hotspur), 12 Mandela Egbo (Crystal Palace), 15 Taylor Moore (Lens), 18 Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal)

Goals: Solanke (53)

Bookings: Gomez (19), Cook (51)

Head Coach: John Peacock

Referee: Edin Jakupovich


By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer Stonky, Uherske Hradiste, Czech Republic