England suffered penalty shootout heartbreak as Netherlands booked their place in the final of the UEFA U17 European Championships.
Steve Cooper’s Young Lions were beaten 6-5 on penalties at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium after Folarin Balogun’s sudden death spot-kick was saved by Joey Koorevaar.
It was a dramatic finale to the semi-final as the Dutch denied the hosts an opportunity to add to last year’s World Cup triumph after neither side could break the deadlock in normal time.
Despite England starting the game as favourites, it was all about the visitors in the opening stages and Luca Ashby-Hammond was called into action in just the second minute.
- England U17s 0-0 Netherlands U17s (5-6 pen)
- Chesterfield's Proact Stadium
- Friday 17 May 2018
- By Andy Baber
The Fulham shot-stopper produced a brave point-blank save to deny Liam Van Gelderen after the ball fell to the defender from Crysencio Summerville’s corner.
His courage earned him a blow to the face, but Ashby-Hammond recovered to save England’s blushes again soon after as he pushed Mohammed Ihattaren’s shot around the post.
With the hosts missing Xavier Amaechi and Ethan Laird through suspension and Thomas Doyle due to injury, they struggled to find any rhythm and astray passes saw several attacks breakdown.
But England gradually grew into the game and came closest to opening the scoring on 36 minutes when Chelsea’s Faustino Anjorin drove through the Netherlands’ defence and struck the post with a crisp shot from just inside the box.
The ball was recycled and when Wouter Burger fouled Bobby Duncan on the edge of the area the Young Lions were presented with another chance, but his low free-kick was off target.
A final opportunity arrived just before the break. A ball across the face of goal screamed for someone to divert it into the net, yet it eluded Arvin Appiah’s despairing lunge.
The second half began much like the first, with Netherlands forcing another Ashby-Hammond save before Duncan screwed a shot wide down the other end on 55 minutes.
Heading into the final 20 minutes, England began to tire and Cooper freshened up his side by introducing Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Tyreece John-Jules and Balogun.
However, neither side could find the breakthrough and the lottery of penalties saw Netherlands progress to the final after Koorevaar dived to his left to deny Balogun.
Italy had earlier secured their place in the competition’s showpiece with a 2-1 victory over Belgium thanks to goals from Manu Emmanuel Gyabuaa and Edoardo Vergani in Rotherham.
The Azzurri took the lead on 30 minutes through Gyabuaa before Belgium hit back after the break through Yorbe Vertessen’s fourth strike of the tournament on 57 minutes.
But a brilliant finish from Vergani on 71 minutes restored Italy’s lead and they held on to earn a shot at silverware against Netherlands at the AESSEAL New York Stadium in Rotherham on Sunday.
England: 1 Luca Ashby-Hammond (Fulham); 12 Vontae Daley-Campbell (Arsenal); 6 Ajibola Alese (West Ham United); 3 Nat Ogbeta (Manchester City); 17 Bukayo Saka (Arsenal); 4 James Garner (Capt) (Manchester United); 19 Matty Daly (Huddersfield Town); 7 Arvin Appiah (Nottingham Forest); 16 Rayhaan Tulloch (West Bromwich Albion); 15 Bobby Duncan (Unattached); 10 Faustino Anjorin (Chelsea)
Substitutes: 14 Elijah Dixon-Bonner (Liverpool) for Anjorin 65; 9 Tyreece John-Jules (Arsenal) for Duncan 69; 20 Folarin Balogun (Arsenal) for Tulloch 75
Substitutes not used: 13 Marcus Dewhurst (Sheffield United); 2 Dylan Crowe (Ipswich Town); 18 Trae Coyle (Arsenal)
Cautions: Daley-Campbell 61
Head coach: Steve Cooper