Keith Downing’s England left it late to overcome a stern Czech Republic side to set up a European U19 Championship final tie with Portugal in Tbilisi yesterday.
The Three Lions were nailed on favourites heading into the tie, but met their match against a resilient Czech side. England were also looking to emulate the success of their compatriots this summer, in The England U20’s that won their World Cup in South Korea. The England side are also trying to go further than the U21’s who were knocked out on penalties by Germany at their European Championship and emulate the U17’s who got to the final of their EURO’s.
It was to be Downing’s men who made the faster start to the huge game and almost led through Chelsea’s Dujon Sterling, but he fluffed his lines from close range. Six minutes later, Martin Jedlicka was called on for the first time in the match as he was forced to save a tame Mason Mount effort. However, it wouldn’t be long before The Czechs started creating chances of their own and Michal Sadilek came the closest as his lob narrowly sailed over Aaron Ramsdale’s crossbar.
Sterling was providing the Czech defence with plenty to think about getting into attacking positions from full-back and asking questions of Jedlicka. Skipper Ondrej Sasinka was soon on the receiving end of one of the chances of the match, but could not convert from a similar position that he scored against Georgia in a decisive group game from. As half-time dawned, the two sides were still deadlocked as neither side could gain the advantage. However, there was enough time for Jay DaSilva to come the closest to breaking the deadlock when his powerful shot struck the post. Nevertheless, it was even Stevens at half-time, with an exciting second period in store.
As referee Davide Massa started the second-half proceedings, it would be The Czech’s who started it on top. A clever free-kick was well worked by Sasinka and Daniel Turyna was found in space, but the Match Day One brace scorer could only lash his effort over the bar. Jan Suchoparek’s men were beginning to create the better of the chances as the final stages approached, and it would be Turyna who would come close yet again when his shot from range was well saved. However, it would be long before England broke Czech hearts in the dying embers of the tie.
A superb solo run down the right from Spurs wonder kid Marcus Edwards was followed by a low drive which ended up on the end of a Lukas Nmecha flick that found the corner to send The Three Lions wild. The dramatic late winner means that the winners of both group A and B meet in the final of the 2017 European U19 Championship.
The Final is set to take place on Saturday and is firmly poised to be a thriller with England meeting Portugal in Gori.