England MU19s reach the U19 EUROs final
England men’s under-19s came from behind to beat Italy 2-1 to reach the final of the U19 EUROs.
Fabio Miretti’s early penalty had put the Azzurrini in front against the Young Lions but then a triple change from Ian Foster produced an immediate equaliser, with replacement Alex Scott powering home a header just before the hour.
And with just eight minutes of normal time remaining, Jarell Quansah headed in the winner to book a place in Friday’s final against Israel, who beat France by 2-1 in their own semi-final later on Tuesday evening.
Foster’s side had qualified for the semis on the back of three wins from three and without conceding a goal, whilst reaching the last four also secured qualification for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia next year.
Italy went into this contest having never lost a last-four tie at the U19 EUROs but like England, have won the trophy once – with the Azzurrini claiming the 2003 crown and the Young Lions successful in 2017.
Carmine Nunziata's side had lost their last group match with France 4-1 but they almost opened the scoring inside the first three minutes against England.
Goalkeeper Matthew Cox was dispossessed in his own penalty area and after Tim Iroegbunam gave away a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, Miretti’s curling strike was heading for the top corner before a diving save from the Brentford shot-stopper.
England did concede in the 12th minute though, shortly after Aaron Ramsey had a low shot saved for the Young Lions.
Cox did well to save a Giuseppe Ambrosino shot from close range but when Brooke Norton-Cuffy’s touch was a bit too far ahead of him, Miretti went down under minimal contact and got up to dispatch his penalty confidently for 1-0.
There was another moment of controversy on 36 minutes when Alfie Devine beat Italian goalkeeper Sebastiano Desplanches to a through pass and the Spurs midfielder was brought down after knocking the ball beyond the Milan youngster. The referee decided it was only a yellow card though and the goalkeeper subsequently saved Harvey Vale’s deflected free-kick.
England grew into the half after a tough start and Devine looked set to test Desplanches after some neat build-up play and cross from Vale but the low drive was blocked expertly by the diving Samuel Giovane.
Carney Chukwuemeka had a shot saved early in the second half but 11 minutes after the restart, head coach Foster decided to make a triple change, bringing on Daniel Oyegoke, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and Alex Scott, and it reaped an immediate reward.
Bynoe-Gittens and Oyegoke helped win a corner with their first touches and the third replacement, Scott, powerfully headed in Devine’s corner to equalise with his.
Borussia Dortmund youngster Bynoe-Gittens added a real attacking threat after coming on and he forced Desplanches into a good save with a 20-yard strike.
England were enjoying more of the possession but Cox needed to make another fine stop to deny Tommaso Baldanzi and Italy had other efforts blocked, as the players entered the final quarter of an hour.
But with eight minutes remaining, Oyegoke did superbly to win a corner and Vale’s in-swinging delivery was flicked on by the Italian defender and Liverpool’s Quansah headed in to put England in front.
England continued to look for a third goal as some nice build-up saw Oyegoke fire over the bar from 25 yards out.
Italy twice almost snatched injury-time equalisers though. First the immense Cox had to deny Gabriele Mulazzi when one-on-one and then from the resulting corner, Baldanzi sent an impressive half-volley from range towards the top corner and the Brentford goalkeeper needed to produce yet another superb save.
England could have wrapped up the game when two-on-one with the goalkeeper but Oyegoke decided to take the shot on instead of passing to Chukwuemeka and it was saved by Desplanches.
It meant the Young Lions had to endure a nervy final couple of minutes but they held for a memorable comeback win and a place in the final.
Highlights: England 2-1 Italy
See the best of the action as our Young Lions beat Italy to reach the U19 EURO Final
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England: 1 Matthew Cox (Brentford), 2 Brooke Norton-Cuffy (Arsenal), 3 Callum Doyle (Manchester City), 4 Tim Iroegbunam (Aston Villa), 5 Ronnie Edwards (Peterborough United), 6 Jarell Quansah (Liverpool), 7 Alfie Devine (Tottenham Hotspur), 8 Carney Chukwuemeka (Aston Villa), 9 Dane Scarlett (Tottenham Hotpsur), 10 Aaron Ramsey (Aston Villa), 11 Harvey Vale (Chelsea) (c)
Substitutes: 14 Alex Scott (Bristol City) for Iroegbunam 56’, 12 Daniel Oyegoke (Brentford) for Norton-Cuffey 56’, 18 Jamie Bynoe-Gittens (Borussia Dortmund) for Ramsey 56’, 15 Luke Chambers (Liverpool) for Bynoe-Gittens 83’, 20 Daniel Jebbison (Sheffield United) for Scarlett 87’
Substitutes not used: 13 Teddy Sharman-Lowe (GK), 16 Bashir Humphreys (Chelsea), 17 Sam Iling-Junior (Juventus), 19 Liam Delap (Manchester City)
Head coach: Ian Foster
Goals: Alex Scott 58’, Jarell Quansah 83’
Bookings: Tim Iroegbunam 3’, Alfie Devine 83’, Alex Scott 90+6’, Daniel Jebbison 90+7