On the day that Arsenal and Aston Villa meet at Wembley in The FA Cup Final, it was players from both those clubs who hit the mark for England in Toulon.
Gunners striker Chuba Akpom and Villa forward Callum Robinson scored a goal each to secure a 2-1 win against Ivory Coast in England’s second game of the tournament.
And despite a late goal for the African side, it was a deserved victory for Aidy Boothroyd’s side, who remain unbeaten in ten games this season.
England U20s 2-1 Ivory Coast
Stade Leo Lagrange
Saturday 30 May 2015
It was a lively start from the Young Lions and they took the lead after just 10 minutes, when Duncan Watmore smartly turned and slipped a pass behind the Ivory Coast defence for Akpom.
He kept his nerve, controlled the ball to set himself up for a side-footed finish into the bottom corner to put England ahead.
That setback seemed to bring the Ivorians out of their shell and they went on to prove the more threatening side for the remainder of the first half, their best spell of the game in fact.
Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had to make a smart save from Meite, after Ivory Coast rapidly caught England on the break when Matty Grimes’ corner was cleared.
But with half-time just five minutes away, Robinson dug out a cross from the left which was met on the volley by the impressive Watmore to produce a smart stop from Axel Kacou.
Another early goal in the second half doubled England’s advantage, when Grimes picked out Robinson for the Villa youngster to drill a low shot home.
Akpom almost had his second of the day on the hour mark when he turned in the box to smash a close-range shot at goal, only for Kacou to make another impressive save.
Ivory Coast found a lifeline in the later stages when substitute Manfousse Kone headed a far-post cross past Pickford to reduce the arrears and give them hope of an equaliser.
England comfortably held out for victory though to pick up their first win of this year’s Festival.
England (4-3-3): 13 Jordan Pickford (Sunderland); 3 Moses Odubajo (Brentford), 5 Jack Stephens (Southampton), 15 Kortney Hause (Wolverhampton Wanderers), 12 Isaac Hayden (Arsenal); 7 Matty Grimes (Swansea City), 4 Harrison Reed (Southampton), 20 Duncan Watmore (Sunderland); 16 Callum Robinson (Aston Villa), 10 Chuba Akpom (Arsenal), 19 Kwame Thomas (Derby County).
Substitutes: 14 Demarai Gray (Birmingham City) for Hayden 64, 8 Lewis Baker (Chelsea) for Robinson 66, 9 James Wilson (Manchester United) for Akpom 70, 11 Rolando Aarons (Newcastle United) for Watmore 73,
Substitutes not used: 1 Christian Walton (Brighton & Hove Albion), 6 Baily Cargill (AFC Bournemouth), 17 John Swift (Chelsea), 18 Jamie Hanson (Derby County).
Cautions: Moses Odubajo 28, Matty Grimes 69
Goals: Chuba Akpom 10.
Head coach: Aidy Boothroyd.
Ivory Coast goal: Manfousse Kone 77.