England sealed their spot in the Under-21 Euro semi-final after a stylish victory over host nation Poland.
The Young Lions went into the game knowing that a win would be enough to see them top their group and automatically qualify for the last four.
And Aidy Boothroyd’s side made no mistake as an early goal from Demarai Gray, on his first start in the competition, settled the nerves before substitute Jacob Murphy and Lewis Baker killed the game with crucial second-half strikes.
- European Under-21 Championship
- Group A
- Thursday 22 June 2017
- Kielce, Poland
It could have been more emphatic too, with England enjoying the better of the opportunities and possession throughout in front of a passionate and vocal home support.
The win means England will now travel to their new base in Krakow to prepare for Tuesday’s semi-final, against the runners-up of either Group B or C, dependent on their results on Friday and Saturday respectively.
Boothroyd had warned his players of a strong start from Poland, who had scored early goals in both of their previous games.
But it was his team who were on the front foot from the off, with England enjoying an early spell of pressure and forcing three successive corners, with both James Ward-Prowse and Baker having attempts saved and cleared off the line, before Alfie Mawson glanced a header just wide at the third attempt.
But the Young Lions did not have to wait long, as a superb pass from Jordan Pickford’s goal-kick picked out Ben Chilwell on the left and when he controlled superbly before picking out Gray, the Leicester City man picked out the far corner with aplomb to put his side ahead.
It could have been 2-0 just after the half-hour mark, but Poland keeper Jakub Wrabel made two good saves to deny headers from Nathaniel Chalobah and Mawson as England looked to take a greater grip on the contest.