England are UEFA European U17 Champions for the second time, after a dramatic 4-1 penalty shoot-out triumph over Holland in the Final.
Ryan Ledson, Taylor Moore, Callum Cooke and Jonjoe Kenny all scored as Freddie Woodman saved one and watched another go wide after the sides had fought out a 1-1 draw after 80 minutes.
England lined-up with ten of the eleven that started the semi-final victory over Portugal on Sunday and the unfortunate Adam Armstrong was the man to miss out – with the Newcastle United striker failing to recover from an ankle knock in time to take his place in the starting line-up.
Holland U17s 1-1 England U17s
England win 4-1 on penalty-kicks
UEFA European U17 Championship
6pm, Wednesday 21 May 2014
National Stadium, Ta'Qali, Malta
Live on Eurosport
The man who replaced Armstrong on Sunday, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Josh Onomah, was thrust into action after his impressive display with Dominic Solanke pushed into the central striking position.
Both managers had predicted that the game would contain plenty of attacking opportunities, and the tie was only two minutes old when the first arrived as Solanke laid off the ball for his Chelsea club-mate Izzy Brown – but his effort from 25 yards was saved with ease by Yannik vvan Osch in the Dutch goal.
Three minutes later, it was Holland who were on the attack as Woodman was called into action. The Newcastle United shot-stopper saved the first with ease as van de Beek’s floating header dropped into his arms, but he got down well to tip an Owobowale effort past the post.
No doubt full of confidence after his wonder strike in the group match between these two sides, Dutch defender Calvin Verdonk tried his luck again from long-range – but once again Woodman was on hand to catch it with ease as the first half neared its halfway stage.
The game was slightly subdued, perhaps due to nerves, but it sparked into life after 25 minutes as England broke the deadlock when Solanke, one of the heroes from the semi-final victory, was on the mark again.
Brown had won a corner down the left flank which was delivered by Patrick Roberts. The defence could only clear as far as Taylor Moore, and the big defender spun and hit a shot goalwards which fell to the feet of Solanke. He remained calm to take a touch, before poking the ball past the ‘keeper into the net.
Angered by conceding, Holland came back at England and it was largely thanks to the bravery of Kenny that the Lions retained the lead as he managed to get his body in the way of a Bergwijn shot.
But he was powerless to stop the eventual equaliser that came in the dying seconds of the half. The ball was flicked on by Bergwijn into the path of Schuurman, and the midfielder held off the challenge of Joe Gomez to fire past Woodman from ten yards, albeit with the help of a slight deflection off the Charlton Athletic defender's boot.
England started the second half positively, and on 51 minutes they forced van Osch to handle a back pass. Brown placed the ball on the edge of the six yard box as the the crowd held its breath – but his touch to Ledson who drilled it goalwards was only met by the onrushing ‘keeper who made amends with a brave save.
Neither side were creating too much, with England using the option of Brown’s pace and power to try and create an attack, but their opponents were always looking dangerous on the counter. As the clock reached the final ten minutes, Taylor Moore sent a 30 yard drive over the bar as it looked ever more likely that a penalty shoot-out would be needed to separate the sides.
With this in mind, Callum Cooke, a keen penalty taker with a proud record, replaced Lewis Cook in the centre of the park for England, as Holland brought on Dani van der Moot for Owobowale.
And as we entered the final two minutes Brown won another corner for his side. Roberts whipped in a cross to the back post where Kenny leapt the highest, but his effort looped agonisingly over the bar.
Then in the final seconds, the ball fell to van der Moot but he volleyed high and wide with the goal at his mercy and it was penalties that were to decide who the new champions of Europe would be.
Captain Ledson got England off to the perfect start –before Woodman made it even better as he saved the first Dutch spot-kick.
Successful strikes from Taylor Moore, Cooke and Kenny followed as Holland knocked another wide – leaving the score at 4-1 as Calvin Verdonk stepped forward for the Dutch.
He fired the ball hard and low to Woodman’s right, but the ball whistled past the post to spark wild celebrations from the England squad and staff and a memorable night in Malta.
Holland (4-3-3): 1 Yanick van Osch; 2 Hidde ter Avest, 3 Keziah Veendorp (C), 4 Calvin Verdonk, 5 Wellington Verloo; 6 Donny van de Beek, 8 Jari Schuurman; 14 Abdelhak Nouri; 18 Bilal Ould-Chikh, 7 Steven Bergwijn, 13 Segun Owobowale.
Substitutes: 17 Marlon Slabbekoorn for Bergwijn (47), 10 Kenneth Paal for Nouri (58), 9 Dani van der Moot for Owobowale (76).
Substitutes not used: 16 Justin Bijlow, 12 Rick van der Meer, 15 Mauro Savastano, 19 Guido Janssen.
Goal: Schuurman (40)
Bookings: van de Beek (37), Schuurman (53)
Head coach: Maarten Stekelenburg
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Fred Woodman (Newcastle United); 2 Jonjoe Kenny (Everton), 5 Joe Gomez (Charlton Athletic), 15 Taylor Moore (RC Lens), 3 Tafari Moore (Arsenal); 4 Ryan Ledson (C; Everton), 14 Lewis Cook (Leeds United); 18 Patrick Roberts (Fulham), 8 Joshua Onomah (Tottenham Hotspur), Isaiah Brown (Chelsea); 10 Dominic Solanke (Chelsea).
Substitutes: 16 Callum Cooke (Middlesbrough) for Cook (74)..
Substitutes not used: 13 Sam Howes (West Ham United), 6 Dael Fry (Middlesbrough), 7 Demetri Mitchell (Manchester United), 9 Adam Armstrong Newcastle United), 12 Mandela Egbo (Crystal Palace), 17 Josh Sims (Southampton)
Goals: Solanke (25)
Bookings: Cook (68)
Head Coach: John Peacock
Referee: Andreas Ekberg (Sweden)