Report: Czechia 0-2 England MU21s
Young Lions kick-off their U21 EURO campaign with victory in Batumi
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Jacob Ramsey and Emile Smith Rowe struck as England men's under-21s started their UEFA U21 EURO campaign with a 2-0 win against Czechia at the Batumi Arena in Georgia.
A hugely entertaining first half saw Noni Madueke and Vasil Kušej both come close to opening the scoring on multiple occasions, though neither side could find a moment of magic to take the lead.
But it took Ramsey less than two minutes to put the Young Lions in front after the break, and substitute Smith Rowe netted in the dying stages to seal all three points.
Madueke nearly put England in front when he smacked the crossbar three minutes in, but Kušej forced a strong save from James Trafford less than a minute later.
Václav Sejk also spurned a strong opportunity inside the opening 15 minutes for the Czechs, slashing into the side netting after his side dispossessed England playing out from the back, with Kušej slicing wide when one-on-one with Trafford shortly afterwards.
Chelsea's Madueke was proving England’s most dangerous spark, and he forced a good block from ‘keeper Vítězslav Jaroš after being fed the ball inside the box by Ramsey in the 30th minute.
But Trafford was again called into action as he produced a stunning save to deny Kušej from 12 yards, with the Czechs having carved up England’s defence.
Highlights: Czechia 0-2 England MU21s
Watch the best of the action as the Young Lions open their EURO account with victory
But it took just 90 seconds from Ramsey to break the deadlock in the second half, as slotted into the bottom corner after some intricate build-up play with Anthony Gordon.
And it was nearly two just eight minutes later, James Garner finding himself in space out wide but only able to place his shot into the arms of Jaroš.
Angel Gomes also had a similar chance saved by the Czech ‘keeper, with England beginning to assert dominance over proceedings as the hour mark approached.
Gordon thought he had in fact made it 2-0 for England when he tapped home from a fine Madueke cross, though the goal was ruled out after Morgan Gibbs-White had failed to move ten yards clear of a Czechia free-kick in the build-up.
And with just over ten minutes left England were almost made to pay for failing to add a second, with substitute Kryštof Daněk heading just over the bar from a corner when he should've done better.
But it was England who found the back of the net again in the dying moments, with Smith Rowe placing the ball into an empty net after being set-up by fellow replacement Cameron Archer to secure victory.
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: 6 Oliver Skipp for Gomes 79’, 10 Emile Smith Rowe for Madueke 79’, 9 Cameron Archer for Gordon 79’, 16 Ben Johnson for Aarons 89’, 19 Harvey Elliott for Gibbs-White 89’
Substitutes not used: 3 Luke Thomas, 12 Jarrad Branthwaite, 13 Josh Griffiths, 15 Charlie Cresswell, 18 Tommy Doyle, 20 Cole Palmer, 22 Carl Rushworth
Goals: Ramsey 47’, Smith Rowe 90+4’
Cautions: Gordon 20’, Aarons 56’, Gibbs-White 69’, Ramsey 84’
Czechia: 1 Vítězslav Jaroš 2 Martin Vitík, 3 Robin Hranac, 4 Adam Gabriel, 12 Martin Cedidla, 22 Filip Kaloc, 8 Lukas Cerv, 11 Pavel Šulc, 20 Jan Žambůrek, 7 Vasil Kušej, 9 Václav Sejk
Substitutes: 17 Matěj Jurásek for Kušej 61’, 14 Daniel Fila for Sejk 66’, 13 Kryštof Daněk for Žambůrek 66’, 10 Adam Karabec for Šulc 66’, 21 Matěj Valenta for Kaloc 82’
Substitutes not used: 5 Karel Pojezný, 6 Michal Fukala, 15 Matěj Koubek, 16 Vladimír Neuman, 18 David Pech, 19 Tomáš Vlček, 23 Jakub Markovič
Cautions: Šulc 45+1’, Karabec 90+3’