England win on penalties
Rub your eyes and believe, yes England win on penalties, albeit as England won the European Under-17 Championship for the second time by beating the Netherlands 4-1 on penalties in the final in Malta.
Chelsea’s Dominic Solanke fired England ahead from close range, but Jari Schuurman’s volley on the stroke of half-time meant penalties were needed.
England were faultless from the spot, but Dani van der Moot and Calvin Verdonk failed to score for the Dutch.
England also won the competition in 2010, with a 2-1 victory over Spain.
Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, part of the senior squad for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, played in that final, in which Liverpool’s Andre Wisdom and Connor Wickham, now of Sunderland, scored.
Both managers had predicted that the game would contain plenty of attacking opportunities, and the tie was only two minutes old when the first arrived as Solanke laid off the ball for his Chelsea club-mate Izzy Brown – but his effort from 25 yards was saved with ease by Yannik vvan Osch in the Dutch goal.
Three minutes later, it was Holland who were on the attack as Woodman was called into action. The Newcastle United shot-stopper saved the first with ease as van de Beek’s floating header dropped into his arms, but he got down well to tip an Owobowale effort past the post.
No doubt full of confidence after his wonder strike in the group match between these two sides, Dutch defender Calvin Verdonk tried his luck again from long-range – but once again Woodman was on hand to catch it with ease as the first half neared its halfway stage.
The game was slightly subdued, perhaps due to nerves, but it sparked into life after 25 minutes as England broke the deadlock when Solanke, one of the heroes from the semi-final victory, was on the mark again.
Brown had won a corner down the left flank which was delivered by Patrick Roberts. The defence could only clear as far as Taylor Moore, and the big defender spun and hit a shot goalwards which fell to the feet of Solanke. He remained calm to take a touch, before poking the ball past the ‘keeper into the net.
A Patrick Roberts corner was not cleared and, when Taylor Moore drove the ball back into the box, Solanke took a touch before drilling clinically into the net.
But a superb flick from Steven Bergwijn allowed Schuurman to break through and level for the Dutch, winners in 2011 and 2012, from 15 yards.
Van der Moot and Roberts both had chances to win it late on, but neither could convert and the match went straight to penalties.
Van der Moot’s opening spot-kick was saved by Newcastle keeper Freddie Woodman and, after Schuurman scored, Verdonk shot wide for the Dutch.
By that point, Ryan Ledson, Moore and Callum Cooke had calmly found the net for England, allowing Jonjoe Kenny to convert the match-winning penalty.
What about the senior’s chances in Brazil?
In the outrights, the Three Lions are virtually available across the board at 33/1, though there is some of the leaders going just 25/1 about England.
Given, that getting out of the group may be the first challenge?
Top goalscorer market is predictably headed by Wayne Rooney?
Will England qualify from Group D…….have YOUR vote?
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