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Published 02 July 2023 6 min read
Men's U21

Report: England MU21s 1-0 Portugal

Written by:

Jonny Bray

The Young Lions sealed a place in the UEFA U21 EURO semi-finals after Anthony Gordon's first-half goal seals narrow win over Portugal


Anthony Gordon finished off a fine free-flowing move to fire England men’s under-21s into their first UEFA Under-21 European Championship semi-final for six years with a 1-0 win over Portugal in Georgia.

The Newcastle United forward gave his side a first-half lead after some crisp two-touch football from Lee Carsley’s Young Lions.

England were defiant during a testing second period that saw Henrique Araújo hit the bar, but they held on to maintain their perfect defensive record in the tournament – still yet to concede a goal – and set up an exciting semi-final against Israel, who beat hosts Georgia 4-3 on penalties.

Some sublime interplay between Noni Madueke, Morgan Gibbs-White and Gordon created the space for Curtis Jones to take England's first shot on goal, but his effort went wide of the post.

But Portugal grew into the match and won a corner in the 12th minute. The initial delivery was cleared but after excellent work from João Neves, Wolverhampton Wanderers' Pedro Neto forced a fantastic stop from James Trafford at his near post.

Madueke had been Carsley's most potent attacking outlet in the first five minutes of the contest, but by the 20th, Arsenal's Nuno Tavares had proven himself up to the challenge.

So it was no surprise when England's next clear-cut opportunity came through Gordon on the left wing.

The former Everton star was put through on goal by a stunning reverse pass from Jacob Ramsey, but the angle was too tight for Gordon to find a way past Celton Biai.
03 Jul 2023 2:06

Highlights: England MU21s 1-0 Portugal

Watch the best of the action, as the Young Lions seal their place in the U21 EURO semi-final

Carsley's team started the match without a recognised centre forward and struggled to find the final finish, despite taking several touches inside Portugal's penalty area during the first half.

Madueke had been looking to cut in on his left and curl a shot into the top corner all afternoon, but after finally getting the better of Tavares for the first time, could only swing an effort wide.

But with eleven minutes of the half to play, England grabbed a sensational opener.

The ball started in Trafford's hands, but England's midfield played it through the lines beautifully before finding Gibbs-White in the box, who picked out Gordon with a pin-point accurate driven cross towards the penalty spot and he did the rest.

Gordon almost scored a second less than five minutes later, but Tavares made a crucial block just as the forward entered the penalty area.

With three minutes left of the half, Neto took an ambitious shot at goal from a free-kick, but his attempt sailed over the crossbar and the half ended with England 1-0 up.

Carsley's side were happy to sit back in the first ten minutes of the second half, confident that they could capitalise on any Portuguese mistake with their lightning-quick counter attack.

However, England were almost made to pay for their low block when substitute Paulo Bernardo headed inches wide of the post from six yards out.
Morgan Gibbs-White looks to break through the Portuguese defence
Morgan Gibbs-White looks to break through the Portuguese defence

They had a penalty appeal waved away with 20 minutes to go before England had another opportunity to create a goalscoring opportunity on the break.

Two minutes later they had their best chance of the game when Neto's delightful delivery found Araújo, whose header collided with the crossbar and bounced out to safety.

Gordon's shot from 20 yards out tested Biai for the first time in the second half as the match drew to a close while Neto forced a good block from a free-kick in the 89th minute before his follow-up flew wide of Trafford's goal.

With one of the last kicks of the game, Tavares took a shot from a distance, but it went over the crossbar and England walked away as winners with an eye on now going one further than the class of 2017, who suffered a semi-final penalty shootout defeat to Germany.

England: 1. James Trafford, 2. Max Aarons, 4. Levi Colwill, 5. Taylor Harwood-Bellis (c), 7. Morgan Gibbs-White, 8. Jacob Ramsey, 11. Anthony Gordon, 14. James Garner, 17. Curtis Jones 21. Angel Gomes, 23. Noni Madueke

Substitutes: 10. Emile Smith Rowe for Ramsey 67', 16. Ben Johnson for Aarons 73', 20. Cole Palmer for Madueke 73', 6. Oliver Skipp for Gomes 80'

Substitutes not used: 3. Luke Thomas, 9. Cameron Archer, 12. Jarrad Branthwaite, 13. Josh Griffiths, 15. Charlie Cresswell, 18. Tommy Doyle, 22. Carl Rushworth

Head coach: Lee Carsley

Goals: Gordon 34'

Cautions: Aarons 51', Johnson 80, Trafford 84'

Portugal: 1. Celton Biai, 3. André Amaro, 4. Samuel Costa, 5. Nuno Tavares, 6. Tiago Dantas, 7. Pedro Neto, 11. Francisco Conceicao, 13. José Carlos Natário Ferreira, 16. Alexandre Penetra, 17. João Neves, 20. Fabio Silva

Substitutes: 8. Paulo Bernardo for Costa 45', 9. Henrique Araújo for Silva 65', 23. Diego Moreira for Conceicao 87', 19. Vitinha for Neto

Substitutes not used: 12. Samuel Soares, 22. Francisco Meixedo, 2. Bernardo Vital, 10. Afonso Sousa, 14. Tomás Araújo, 15. Leonardo Lelo, 18. André Almeida, 19. Vitinha, 21. Vasco Sousa

Cautions: José Carlos Natário Ferreira 82'