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Published 22 May 2023 4 min read
Men's Elite League Squad

Report: England MU20s 1-0 Tunisia

Written by:

Nicholas Veevers

Young Lions get U20 World Cup underway with a win over Tunisia in Argentina

England men’s under-20s made a winning start to their FIFA U20 World Cup campaign, as Dane Scarlett’s first-half goal secured victory over Tunisia.

Ian Foster’s Young Lions produced a composed and professional performance in La Plata to register a deserved three points in their group.

And while the final scoreline didn’t match England’s domination of the game in terms of possession, territory and attempts, the way in which they dealt with the occasion and opponent will be pleasing for the head coach.

The game started at a frenetic pace, with both teams showing their World Cup appetite to produce an end-to-end opening in the first ten minutes.

Neither team found the early breakthrough they were looking for and while it was England on the front foot for the majority of that time, Tunisia were more than happy to soak up the pressure and look for the counter attack.

But as the game settled down, England began to exert their authority and it was no surprise when they took the lead midway through the first half.

Captain Harvey Vale was given too much time and space on the left after an earlier attack had been thwarted, and when he delivered a perfectly whipped cross for Scarlett, the striker from Uxbridge leapt highest in the box to guide a firm downward header past Dries Arfaoui.
Dane Scarlett powers home a header to open the scoring for the Young Lions in La Plata
Dane Scarlett powers home a header to open the scoring for the Young Lions in La Plata
And Scarlett showed his aerial prowess again soon after, by rising to meet Sam Edozie’s lifted pass, but Arfaoui was equal to this one.

The second half continued in the same vein as the opening 45 minutes, with the Young Lions firmly in control of the game and keeping Tunisia at relative arm’s length.

But with only one goal to show for their territorial supremacy, England knew they really needed to kill the game off against an increasingly stubborn Tunisian defence.

And they came close to doubling their advantage in the 69th minute when Edozie skipped past his man on the right before cutting the ball back for Devine who turned the ball agonisingly wide of the post.

Tunisia had introduced the lively Mohamed Dhaoui just after the hour mark and he was proving more of a handful for England to contend with at the other end. His angled free-kick, when most were expecting a cross, almost caught out Matthew Cox but fortunately the Brentford ‘keeper was alert enough to scramble across and make a save.
The Young Lions' starting lineup in La Plata to face Tunisia in their opening game of the World Cup
The Young Lions' starting lineup in La Plata to face Tunisia in their opening game of the World Cup
He then held a long-range effort from Dhaoui, as Tunisia’s desperation for a goal began to grow in the dying stages.

But it was England substitute Daniel Jebbison who came closest on two occasions in stoppage time, firstly when his low left-footer was well-saved by Arfaoui at his near post.

From the resulting corner, Jebbison then saw a shot hit the post after a neat combination between Alex Scott and Devine on the right had set him up in the last seconds of the game.

England will be back in action on Thursday 25 May, when they take on Uruguay at the same venue in La Plata (7pm BST).

England: 1 Matthew Cox (Brentford), 4 Alex Scott (Bristol City), 5 Bashir Humphreys (Chelsea), 6 Jarell Quansah (Liverpool), 7 Alfie Devine (Tottenham Hotspur), 9 Dane Scarlett (Tottenham Hotspur), 11 Harvey Vale (Chelsea) (c), 14 Darko Gyabi (Leeds United), 15 Ronnie Edwards (Peterborough United), 17 Sam Edozie (Southampton), 21 Daniel Oyegoke (Brentford)

Substitutes: 18 Mateo Joseph (Leeds United) for Edozie 75, 8 Xavier Simons (Hull City) for Humphreys 75, 20 Daniel Jebbison (Sheffield United) for Scarlett 81

Substitutes not used: 12 James Beadle (Brighton & Hove Albion), 13 Teddy Sharman-Lowe (Chelsea), 19 Liam Delap (Manchester City), Imari Hines-Samuels (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Head coach: Ian Foster

Goals: Dane Scarlett 25