Skip to main content
Published 10 June 2023 6 min read
Men's U21

Report: England MU21s 0-2 Japan

Written by:

Aaron Bains

The Young Lions took part in a behind-closed-doors training game at St. George's Park on Saturday

England MU21s stepped up preparations for this summer’s U21 EURO with a 2-0 defeat to Japan in a warm-up game behind closed doors at St. George’s Park.

After an even first half, it was Japan who secured the victory after goals from captain Rihito Yamamota  and Yuta Matsumura.

Despite this being a game behind closed doors, all players who competed gained official caps from the FA.

The teams had gone into half-time even with neither side able to find a breakthrough in a fairly even 45 minutes.

England controlled most of the possession during the half with their best chances both falling to Noni Madueke, but he was brilliantly denied by goalkeeper Leobrian Kokubo  on both occasions.

A mix-up in defence on eight minutes saw Madueke try to lob Kokubo from 30 yards, however the Japan goalkeeper expertly headed clear, and 12 minutes later he once again denied Madueke, this time from a close-range volley after a nicely worked short corner and cross by Harvey Elliott.

Noni Madueke had England MU21s' best chances during a close first half
Noni Madueke had England MU21s' best chances during a close first half

A minute later, Madueke was involved again, with excellent build-up play between him and Anthony Gordon which saw the ball flash across the box, but England couldn’t find the final touch.

Japan finished the half strongly and their best opportunity came close to half time as they broke towards England’s box but were denied by an excellent block from Oliver Skipp.

Japan were a threat from set pieces throughout the half but England goalkeeper Carl Rushworth was only called into action once, comfortably dealing with a long-range shot from midfielder Yuito Suzuki.

Japan stepped things up again after the break and came close from a 55th minute corner when a header from defender Seiji Kimura just whistled past Anthony Patterson’s post, however Yamamota made no mistake ten minutes later with his close-range tap-in after some neat interplay on the left-hand side.

Not long later, substitute Matsumura made it 2-0 after the ball was once again worked across the box from Japan’s left-hand side as the visitors held on for a deserved win.

Find football near you

England: 1 Carl Rushworth (Brighton and Hove Albion), 3 Luke Thomas (Leicester City), 4 Charlie Cresswell (Leeds United), 5 Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Manchester City) ©, 7 Noni Madueke (Chelsea), 8 Tommy Doyle (Manchester City), 9 Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal), 10 Harvey Elliott (Liverpool), 11 Anthony Gordon (Newcastle United), 16 Max Aarons (Norwich City), 18 Oliver Skipp (Tottenham Hotspur)

Substitutes: 13 Anthony Patterson (Sunderland) for Rushworth 45, 19 Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa) for Smith Rowe 60, 21 Cameron Archer (Aston Villa) for Madueke 60, 20 Morgan Gibbs-White (Nottingham Forest) for Gordon 60, 6 James Garner (Everton) for Thomas 60, 17 Curtis Jones (Liverpool) for Skipp 60, 14 Lewis Hall (Chelsea) for Aarons 75, 15 Levi Colwill (Brighton & Hove Albion, loan from Chelsea) for Cresswell 75, 12 Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton) for Harwood-Bellis 75, 22 James Trafford (Manchester City) for Patterson 90

Substitutes not used: 23 Josh Griffiths (West Bromwich Albion)

Head coach: Lee Carsley

Japan: 23 Leobrian Kokubo, 2 Hayato Okuda, 5 Seji Kimura, 21 Hijiri Kato, 4 Kaito Suzuki, 13 Yu Hirakawa, 10 Yuito Suzuki, 7 Rihito Yamamoto ©, 8 Joel Chima Fujita, 14 Shunsuke Mito, 19 Yutaro Oda.

Substitutes: 11 Shota Fujio for Oda 61, 9 Kein Sato for Hirakawa 61, 24 Masato Shigemi for Yamamoto 69, 20 Yuta Matsumara for Mito 69, 22 Takashi Uchino for Okuda 82, 17 Jun Nishikawa for Y Suzuki 82, 6 Hiroki Sekine for K Suzuki 82, 16 Daiki Matsuoka for Fujita 82, 15 Ibuki Konno for Kato 82

Substitutes not used: 12 Mascato Sasaki, 1 Zion Suzuki, 3 Kenta Nemoto

Head coach: Go Oiwa

Goals: Rihito Yamamoto 65, Yuta Matsumura 75.