Report: England MU19s 2-0 Montenegro
England men's under-19s got their EURO title defence underway with a 2-0 victory over Montenegro.
Last season’s MU19s lifted the UEFA European Under-19 Championship trophy under Ian Foster at the start of July and with most of those players and the head coach progressing to the MU20s this term, ahead of next summer’s U20 World Cup, it has seen Simon Rusk take charge of the age group this time around.
Wednesday night’s match against Montenegro was the first of three games in the next week as part of their 2022-23 UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying round group.
And after a slightly frustrating first half, in which they dominated but were unable to find the breakthrough, goals after the restart from Luke Chambers and Sonny Perkins ensured the Young Lions joined hosts Denmark on three points after the first round of matches.
Next up for Rusk’s side is Georgia on Saturday before the final qualification match versus Denmark on Tuesday, with both matches kicking off at 1pm.
The top two teams in each qualifying group will join number one seeds Portugal in the spring 2023 elite round, alongside the third-placed team with the best record against the top two in their section.
The aim is to be one of eight teams at the 2023 UEFA European Under-19 Championship Finals tournament in Malta between 3-16 July.
England started Wednesday’s match with Montenegro in a 3-4-3 formation and their wing-backs, Rico Lewis and Chambers, were getting plenty of joy on the flanks.
The Young Lions completely dominated the opening period but struggled to find the breakthrough despite Montenegro rarely venturing out of their half.
The closest Rusk’s side came to finding the first goal was through a George Hall header at the back post and there were strong claims for a penalty when Lewis appeared to have his legs swiped away but referee Marian Barbu failed to point to the spot.
It meant the Young Lions went into the second half still searching for a crucial opening goal and they picked up where they left off with some excellent chances following the restart.
Firstly, Perkins opted to square it when through on goal and was unable to find a team-mate, and then Lewis found Darko Gyabi with a pull-back and the Leeds United midfielder forced a save.
England did break the deadlock just after the hour mark when an intricate exchange down the left saw George Hall flick the ball around the corner and Chambers ran on to the ball to send a low shot into the far corner.
The victory was then confirmed in the 76th minute, with Chambers was again involved, this time cutting the ball back to Perkins and, on the turn, the Leeds United forward fired in a left-footed shot across the ‘keeper.
The Young Lions were more than worthy winners in the end, having had 22 shots at goal compared to Montenegro’s three.
Next up for England is Georgia on Saturday, with the opposition suffering a 3-1 defeat to hosts Denmark in their opening match on Wednesday.
England: 1 James Beadle (Brighton & Hove Albion); 15 Ashley Phillips (Blackburn Rovers), 5 Ben Nelson (Rochdale, loan from Leicester City), 16 Lewis Hall (Chelsea); 2 Rico Lewis (Manchester City), 8 Darko Gyabi (Leeds United), 4 Sammy Braybrooke (Leicester City) (captain), 3 Luke Chambers (Liverpool); 7 Sonny Perkins (Leeds United), 10 George Hall (Birmingham City); 12 Divin Mubama (West Ham United)
Substitutes: 11 Omari Forson (Manchester United) for Mubama 58, 6 Adam Wharton (Blackburn Rovers) for Gyabi 83, 9 Oakley Cannonier (Liverpool) for Perkins 83, 14 Sam Mather (Manchester United) for G Hall 86, 16 Ben Chrisene for Chambers 86
Substitutes not used: 13 Joseph Whitworth (Crystal Palace), 22 Tommy Simkin (Stoke City), 17 Isaac Mabaya (Liverpool), 19 Lee Jonas (Liverpool), 20 Kian Pennant (Leicester City)
Head coach: Simon Rusk
Goals: Luke Chambers 62, Sonny Perkins 76
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