England Under-21s put one foot in the Toulon Tournament Final on Wednesday, after a 4-0 victory over Paraguay.
A brace from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, supplemented by strikes from Lewis Baker and Nathan Redmond made it three wins from their three Group B games so far.
And with just one game left to play on Friday, it would take a defeat against Japan and a big swing in goal difference from the Portugal and Paraguay match to deny Gareth Southgate’s side a place in Sunday’s Final in Avignon.
Paraguay 0-4 England
Wednesday 25 May 2016
Live on BT Sport
The Three Lions had to show their patience too, coming up against a Paraguay side who were happy to try and stop the flow of the game at every opportunity.
They were effective too, as it took 29 minutes before England created a clear chance, when Loftus-Cheek led a breakaway after collecting a loose ball in midfield. He slipped a pass to his right for Redmond, but the Norwich man’s shot drifted just wide of the far post.
But the Three Lions finally managed to break down their opponents just after the half-hour mark when Duncan Watmore broke into the box and found Loftus-Cheek. He placed a pass back to Baker, who made no mistake by planting a shot into the top corner.
It took only five minutes of the second half before England doubled their lead, as defender Franco Benitez thought he could block off Loftus-Cheek’s run into the area.
He completely underestimated the Chelsea man’s strength though, as Loftus-Cheek nicked the ball off him before placing a left-footer past Alan Gomez in goal.
And a third goal arrived just shy of the hour mark when Loftus-Cheek got his second of the night. A darting run inside from Watmore on the right saw him place a pass into the Chelsea man, who finished superbly by chipping the ball over Gomez to secure the points.
The scoring was finished six minutes later, when Redmond embarked on a run from deep at the Paraguay defence and when they backed off, he punished them by firing a low left-footer past the exposed Gomez to all but seal England’s spot in Sunday’s final.
England Under-21s (4-1-2-1-2): 1 Jordan Pickford (Sunderland); 2 Dominic Iorfa (Wolverhampton Wanderers), 5 Calum Chambers (Arsenal), 6 Kortney Hause (Wolverhampton Wanderers), 20 Ben Chilwell (Leicester City); 4 Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea); 8 James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) (c), 12 Lewis Baker (Chelsea); 10 Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea); 11 Nathan Redmond (Norwich City), 7 Duncan Watmore (Sunderland).
Substitutes: 3 Matt Targett (Southampton) for Chilwell 39, 14 Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) for Watmore 62, 19 Kasey Palmer (Chelsea) for Redmond 68, 17 John Swift (Chelsea) for Loftus-Cheek 71
Substitutes not used: 13 Angus Gunn (Manchester City), 9 Cauley Woodrow (Fulham), 15 Jack Stephens (Southampton), 16 Matt Grimes (Swansea City), , 18 Rob Holding (Bolton Wanderers),
Head coach: Gareth Southgate
Goals: Lewis Baker 33, Ruben Loftus-Cheek 45, 59, Nathan Redmond 65
Cautions: Kortney Hause 65, Nathaniel Chalobah 70, John Swift 80
Paraguay: 1 Alan Vento Gomez, 2 Rodi Ferreira, 5 Franco Edgar Benitez (c), 14 Omar Alderete Fernandez, 16 Joel Gimenez Cabrera, 6 Arturo Aranda Barreto, 8 Gustavo Vieira Velazquez, 19 Matias Villasanti Rolon, 20 Sergio Diaz Velazquez, 18 David Colman Escobar, 9 Pedro Baez Benitez.
Substitutes: 7 Dervi Rodriguez Maciel for Escobar 41, 21 Sergio Bareiro Cardozo for Benitez 57,
Substitutes not used: 12 Ever Mereles Martinez, 3 Hugo Paniagua Zarate, 4 Diego Melgarejo Fretes, , 11 Walter Bogado Gonzalez, 13 Arnaldo Saucedo Gauto, 15 Richard Prieto Franco, 17 Richard Britez Aranda,.
Head coach: Carlos Paredes Monges
Cautions: Joel Cabrera 47, Sergio Valazquez 48, Franco Benitez 51
Highlights: Paraguay 0-4 England