England Under-21s began their new Euro qualifying campaign with a point on the road, after a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands.
The Young Lions had taken the lead in Doetinchem through Dominic Calvert-Lewin, one of six debutants in Aidy Boothroyd’s side, only for the Dutch to draw level ten minutes later through senior-capped Bart Ramselaar.
It represents a solid start to the new term for England, who will leave the Netherlands the happier of the two sides as both nations begin their campaign with a point.
- UEFA European U21 Championship
- Qualifying Group 4
- Friday 1 September 2017
- Stadion de Vijverberg, Doetinchem
- Live on FreeSports UK
There were chances for both sides in the opening stages, with the hosts in particular making a bright start and causing more than a few concerns for England.
But the Young Lions also had opportunities, with Ademola Lookman skipping down the left to set up Dominic Solanke, who fired just wide from the edge of the area.
Kieran Dowell then flashed two long-range shots at goal without success, but it was another Everton connection which eventually gave England the lead after 20 minutes.
Lookman had been a constant threat to the Dutch backline and he was the architect, as he crafted a chance for Calvert-Lewin with a neat piece of skill before lifting a pass through for his team-mate.
Calvert-Lewin made no mistake from there, calmly slotting home past home keeper Joel Drommel to get England’s campaign up and running.
But they were only ahead for ten minutes, when the home side levelled it up thanks to a finely-placed header from PSV star Ramselaar going into the break.
Art Langeler’s side remained on the front foot after the re-start and Frenkie de Jong spurned a half-chance to test Angus Gunn just before the hour mark, after taking too long before lining up his shot at goal.
Boothroyd’s response was to make a double switch with 20 minutes remaining, replacing Solanke and Dowell with Kasey Palmer and Demarai Gray, as the Young Lions went in search of a winner.
It was Jonjoe Kenny who England had to be thankful to though, as the Everton right-back cleared off the line to keep Guus Til’s deflected effort from creeping in.
With Tammy Abraham added to the attack in place of Calvert-Lewin, it was England who finished strongly though, with Gray in particular proving a threat on the right.
But neither side could find the breakthrough, meaning the qualifying campaign starts with a point apiece for two nations who will both have ambitions of topping Group 4 and sealing progress to Italy and San Marino in 2019.
England: 1 Angus Gunn (Norwich City, loan from Manchester City); 2 Jonjoe Kenny (Everton), 6 Dael Fry (Middlesbrough), 5 Joseph Gomez (Liverpool) (c), 3 Ben Chilwell (Leicester City); 7 Josh Onomah (Aston Villa, loan from Tottenham Hotspur), 4 Lewis Cook (AFC Bournemouth), 12 Kieran Dowell (Nottingham Forest, loan from Everton); 16 Ademola Lookman (Everton), 10 Dominic Solanke (Liverpool), 9 Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
Substitutes: 17 Kasey Palmer (Huddersfield Town, loan from Chelsea) for Solanke 71, 15 Demarai Gray (Leicester City) for Dowell 72, 11 Tammy Abraham (Swansea City, loan from Chelsea) for Calvert-Lewin 77
Substitutes not used: 8 Tom Davies (Everton), 13 Freddie Woodman (Newcastle United), 19 Fikayo Tomori (Hull City, loan from Chelsea), 23 Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Head coach: Aidy Boothroyd
Goals: Dominic Calvert-Lewin 20
Cautions: Joseph Gomez 64