England MU17s qualify for the U-17 World Cup with enthralling 4-2 victory over Switzerland
Archie Gray, Zakariya Lovelace, Michael Golding and Kadan Young all find the net as England men's under-17s book their spot at the FIFA U-17 World Cup
England MU17s have qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup after coming from behind to beat Switzerland 4-2 in a breathless play-off match.
The two beaten UEFA Under-17 Championship quarter-finalists with the best group stage record faced each other this afternoon in a bid to secure Europe's fifth place at the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will take place between November 10 and December 2.
England had taken the lead through a stunning Archie Gray strike but then found themselves behind after goals from Elio Rufener and Demir Xhemalija.
But a double change from head coach Ryan Garry’s really paid dividends as Zakariya Lovelace and Michael Golding both scored in the space of a minute.
Replacement Kadan Young went from provider to goalscorer as he then added a fourth for the Young Lions to round off an outstanding second-half display.
It was the second time the sides had faced each other during the Under-17 Championship after they shared a goalless draw on Wednesday, which ensured England pipped Switzerland to top spot in Group D on goal difference.
England enjoyed more of possession in the opening half and had the first real opportunity of the match, as some neat footwork and cross from Michael Golding saw Zakariya Lovelace head over the bar.
The Young Lions took the lead on 17 minutes when Justin Oboavwoduo held the ball up well and rolled it to Gray. The Leeds midfielder took a touch on the corner of the area and rifled a right-footed shot spectacularly into the far top corner, leaving the goalkeeper rooted to the spot.
Highlights: England MU17s 4-2 Switzerland
See the best of the action as the Young Lions secured their spot at the 2023 World Cup
Switzerland grew into the match and ended up having more opportunities than the Young Lions in the first half.
But they found a goalkeeper in fine form in Tommy Setford, who along with claiming several dangerous crosses, saved excellently with his feet when Arlet Junior Ze was through on goal and also denied Elio Rufener's crisp half-volley.
Lovelace had a powerful effort saved as the teams approached the break but then Switzerland equalised with the last kick of the half, as Loun Srdanovic’s pass was brought down expertly by Ze and Rufener swept the ball into the bottom corner.
It was a cruel end to the first half for the Young Lions and they suffered another blow seven minutes after the restart when Isaiah Dada-Mascoll was penalised for handball after blocking a powerful shot and Xhemalija whipped the resulting free-kick from the edge of the box into the top corner.
England responded superbly and after plenty of pressure, equalised midway through the second half.
Ryan Garry made a double change just after the hour by bringing on Myles Lewis-Skelly and Kadan Young and they both made a huge impact on the game.
Arsenal midfielder Lewis-Skelly powerfully ran to the byline on the left and his pull-back was tapped in by the unmarked Lovelace to equalise.
Meet the MU17 squad
And then less than a minute later, England were back in front when some impressive skill and strength from Young also saw him reach the byline on the left and his pull-back was turned in by Golding.
England did not let up and they added a fourth goal with less than a quarter of an hour remaining when Oboavwoduo picked out Young at the far post and the Aston Villa teenager volleyed in from close range.
The Young Lions remained completely dominant and should have added a fifth when the impressive Lovelace was wayward with a shot, after being teed up by Jayden Meghoma.
Switzerland rarely offered a threat in the second half but fired a couple of warning shots in the final ten minutes as Alessandro Romano and Ze had wayward efforts.
Xhemalija again showed his set-piece quality as Setford was left scurrying across his goal with another free-kick but in the end, the Young Lions held on for the 4-2 win which secured their place at this year’s U-17 World Cup.
England: 1 Tommy Setford (Ajax), 3 Somto Boniface (Chelsea), 5 Lakyle Samuel (Manchester City) (c), 6 Ishé Samuels-Smith (Everton), 7 Justin Oboavwoduo (Manchester City), 8 Archie Gray (Leeds United), 10 Michael Golding (Chelsea), 11 Ethan Nwaneri (Arsenal), 14 Isaiah Dada-Mascoll (Manchester City), 16 Finley McAllister (Manchester United), 19 Zakariya Lovelace (Glasgow Rangers)
Substitutes: 12 Jayden Meghoma (Southampton) for Boniface 54’, 20 Kadan Young (Aston Villa) for Nwaneri 61’, 4 Myles Lewis-Skelly (Arsenal) for McAllister 61’
Substitutes not used: 13 Ted Curd (Chelsea), 2 Josh Acheampong (Chelsea), 9 Leon Chiwome (Wolverhampton Wanderers), 15 Mofe Jemide (Crystal Palace), 17 Tyler Dibling (Southampton), 18 Kiano Dyer (Chelsea)
Head coach: Ryan Garry
Goals: Archie Gray 47’, Zakariya Lovelace 67’, Michael Golding 68’, Kadan Young 76’