England U-21s 1–3 Italy U-21s: Young Lions exit European Championship and finish bottom of Group B

first_img Italy players celebrate scoring against England’s Under-21s England’s Under-21s side exited a European Championship at the group stage for a third successive tournament after being beaten 3-1 by Italy in Olomouc.The Young Lions knew a win or draw could get them into the semi-finals but they ended up bottom of Group B as they were left to rue errors at both ends of the pitch which allowed the Azzurrini to capitalise, although they were also unable to qualify for the next phase.Two goals in two first half minutes from Andrea Belotti and Marco Benassi, saw England’s static defence unpicked with ease, while Benassi’s second, with 18 minutes to go, further embarrassed Gareth Southgate’s backline before Nathan Redmond slammed home a consolation strike.It had initially looke promising with early pressure for England coming in the shape of two corners, which were swung in by Everton’s Luke Garbutt, but his set-pieces failed to create the havoc intended, while Italy’s first retort was also from a corner but an excellent cross was turned away from goal by one of their own players.The Young Lions then began to get penned back by the Azzurrini as a succession of clumsy passes and tackles gifted possession to the Italians but, when given space, Domenico Berardi could only lash over.Harry Kane showed why he’s more than just a centre forward as he dropped deep before firing a sensational through ball to Danny Ings but, with just Francesco Bardi to beat, the Liverpool new boy missed the target.Soon though, Italy had taken charge of the match with England’s pedestrian central midfield duo of Nathaniel Chalobah and Jake Forster-Caskey struggling to stifle their opponents, while John Stones was guilty of chasing opponents when remaining disciplined alongside shaky defensive partner Ben Gibson was the better option.Kane forced a splendid save from shot-stopper Bardi as he did well to take down a long raking pass, before cutting inside and getting an effort away.But a foolish free-kick was given away after 25 minutes by Garbutt and England were punished for some dozy defending with Belotti beating the backline and stretching a leg out to volley in Berardi’s excellent delivery.And it got worse just moments later as Lorenzo Crisetig, given space to drive forward, found Benassi and his shot deflected into the back of the net off Gibson.Southgate’s side attempted to rally but with the midfield lacking creativity and the full-back’s struggling to get past the halfway line, England were left passing the ball aimlessly along the back.Redmond nearly produced one moment of magic before half-time as he danced through a maze of legs but his strike was saved Bardi between the sticks.Seconds after the break, Jesse Lingard, the hero against Sweden, nearly got one goal back as he weaved his way through the Italian defence but his strike went wide.Kane and Ings also smashed efforts towards Bardi but neither were able to test the glovesman, who is on the books at Inter Milan, but has spent most of his time away on loan spells.Gibson then came agonisingly close to nudging in an Ings flick on as Southgate’s side threw everything at the Italians.Luigi Di Biagio’s side quickly looked to stifle the Young Lions by taking off dangerous winger Berardi and putting on defender Stefano Sabelli.Redmond and Lingard, who had notably begun to switch positions along the forward line, nearly combined to great affect but the latter’s curled strike was swept just past the post.But with 18 minutes to go England were left to accept their fate as Benassi took advantage of some terrible defending to head home Marcelo Trotta’s excellent flick from a throw-in.A rally of strikes from Redmond, Kane and Chalobah were all pot-shots rather than measured efforts before Norwich star Redmond eventually bludgeoned the ball beyond Bardi before the final whistle confirmed their exit from the tournament. 1last_img read more

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