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Published 31 May 2023 5 min read
Men's Elite League Squad

Report: England MU20 1-2 Italy

Written by:

Frank Smith

Late penalty ensures Italy progress to the U-20 World Cup quarter-final

England MU20s exited the FIFA U-20 World Cup after a controversial penalty decision in the final ten minutes saw Italy win 2-1 in the round of 16.

First-half goals from Tommaso Baldanzi and Alfie Devine meant the sides spent much of the game level at 1-1 at La Plata Stadium in Argentina.

But in the 84th minute, a long-range effort struck the trailing arm of Jarell Quansah as he turned away from the ball to block the shot and after a long VAR review, which involved referee Ramon Abatti visiting the pitchside monitor, he pointed to the spot and Italy captain Cesare Casadei dispatched the penalty to send his side through.

It was the first time this tournament that head coach Ian Foster had his full squad to choose from, after Coventry City loan duo Brooke Norton-Cuffy and Callum Doyle, plus Chelsea midfield Carney Chukwuemeka, linked up with the squad after finishing their club duties.

And Chukwuemeka almost made an immediate impact as he appeared to be bundled over in the box after just four minutes, although the referee waved away the appeals.

It was Italy who were to take the lead soon after though as an exquisite pass from Giuseppe Ambrosino released Tommaso Baldanzi in the centre of the penalty box and his toe-poke finish could not be stopped by the diving goalkeeper Matthew Cox.

England responded superbly though and the excellent Devine, who has been one of the Young Lions’ standout performers in the tournament, rattled the crossbar on the quarter of an hour mark with a powerful left-footed strike.

Brooke Norton-Cuffy and Carney Chukwuemeka made their first appearances of the tournament after finishing their club duties.
Brooke Norton-Cuffy and Carney Chukwuemeka made their first appearances of the tournament after finishing their club duties.

The Spurs youngster was not to be denied midway through the half when Chukwuemeka passed to Dane Scarlett on the left wing and his fine low cross was volleyed expertly in by his club team-mate Devine.

Italy enjoyed more of the possession but a relatively tame Baldanzi shot, which was easily held by Cox, was the only other chance of note in the opening period.

There was a moment of panic for England early into the second half when Italy captain Casadei was picked out inside the penalty area. But the Chelsea midfielder dragged his left-footed strike wide of the goal and was subsequently flagged for offside anyway.

Casadei and Matteo Prati had strikes blocked soon after as the Italian pressure started to build, although England did look to carry a threat on the counter-attack.

The double substitution of Darko Gyabi and Daniel Oyegoke just after the hour mark added fresh impetus for the Young Lions, as they soon earned a corner which Quansah headed over.

England almost went ahead with 20 minutes remaining when the classy Alex Scott curled a ball into the penalty box and Italy goalkeeper Sebastiano Desplanches and Gabriele Guarino were unable to intercept, leaving the ball to roll goalwards. For a moment it looked as though Scarlett would hook the ball in but with the angle tight, he laid it back to Devine and his shot was sliced wayward.

Alfie Devine has continually impressed during the U-20 World Cup
Alfie Devine has continually impressed during the U-20 World Cup

The Young Lions thought they should have had a penalty moments later when Chukwuemeka went down but after a VAR check, the referee once again waved away the appeal.

Italy had their own VAR check with eight minutes remaining when a powerful shot struck Quansah. And despite the defender turning his body away from the ball and making no movement towards the ball, after visiting the pitchside screen, Brazilian referee Abatti pointed to the spot, with Casadei dispatching the subsequent spot-kick.

There was to be 11 minutes of injury-time but despite plenty of endeavour, England were unable to find the equaliser. 

England: 1 Matthew Cox (Brentford), 2 Brooke Norton-Cuffy (Coventry City, loan from Arsenal), 4 Alex Scott (Bristol City), 5 Bashir Humphreys (Chelsea), 6 Jarell Quansah (Liverpool), 7 Alfie Devine (Tottenham Hotspur), 9 Dane Scarlett (Tottenham Hotspur), 10 Carney Chukwuemeka (Chelsea), 11 Harvey Vale (Chelsea) (c), 15 Ronnie Edwards (Peterborough United), 18 Mateo Joseph (Leeds United)

Substitutes: 21 Daniel Oyegoke (Brentford) for Norton-Cuffy 62’, 14 Darko Gyabi (Leeds United) for Joseph 62’, 19 Liam Delap (Manchester City) for Quansah 90+7’, 3 Callum Doyle (Coventry City, loan from Manchester City) for Humphreys 90+8’, 17 Sam Edozie (Southampton) for Vale 90+8’

Substitutes not used: 12 James Beadle (Brighton & Hove Albion), 13 Teddy Sharman-Lowe (Chelsea), 8 Xavier Simons (Hull City), 16 Imari Hines-Samuels (Brighton & Hove Albion), 20 Daniel Jebbison (Sheffield United)

Head coach: Ian Foster

Goals: Alfie Devine 24’

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