England Under-21s come from behind to see off Slovakia

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England Under-21s survived a major scare to keep their Euro 2017 hopes alive after a comeback victory over Slovakia.

Second-half goals from Alfie Mawson and Nathan Redmond sealed a 2-1 win to move the Young Lions top of Group A.

But Aidy Boothroyd’s side were poor for long spells and Martin Chrien’s opener looked to have them on the brink of another early European exit.

Yet two goals in 11 minutes mean England go into their final group game with hosts Poland – who face Sweden in Monday’s late kick-off – on Thursday with their fate in their own hands.

Boothroyd had already labelled it a must-win game following Friday’s 0-0 draw with Sweden but his words looked to have fallen on deaf ears after a desperate first half in Kielce.

England adopted the diamond in midfield with John Swift replacing Jacob Murphy and Redmond partnering Tammy Abraham in attack but the switch failed to inspire.

First England had to deal with Slovakia’s roughhousing approach, which brought a booking for Matus Bero after a wild challenge on Nathaniel Chalobah, while Redmond, Swift and Calum Chambers all received similar treatment.

But t here was little serious threat from England despite plenty of possession – similar to the Sweden game – with only Chalobah’s long-range effort dribbling wide.

Apart from the strong-arm tactics Slovakia offered, England looked equipped to deal with their threat but were rocked when they fell behind after 23 minutes.

Albert Rusnak’s corner found Chrien and, with Mason Holgate and Ben Chilwell giving him too much space, the Viktoria Plzen midfielder craned his neck to guide a fine header across Jordan Pickford and into the far corner.

Suddenly England were exposed with a lack of cohesion, communication and cutting edge becoming ever more glaring.

A limited Slovakia side were allowed to rest in their comfort zone with Holgate, Abraham and skipper James Ward-Prowse struggling.

The Young Lions played into Slovakia’s hands with their pedestrian build-up never testing a side who had not competed in the Euros since 2000 – when they hosted the tournament.

And Pickford scrambled to turn Jaroslav Mihalik’s drive away just before the break with England floundering and needing a huge second half to save themselves.

Thankfully for Boothroyd they found it inside 11 minutes to turn the game around.

Murphy replaced Holgate at the break and made an instant impact as he teed up Mawson for the equaliser just five minutes into the second half.

The Norwich winger, playing in an unfamiliar right-back role, crossed for the Swansea defender who tapped in from close range after his initial effort was saved.

It was a response England desperately needed and their drastic improvement continued after 61 minutes when Redmond won it.

Excellent hold-up play from Abraham allowed Ward-Prowse to spread the play and find Redmond with Slovakia stretched.

T he Southampton winger then cut inside Martin Valjent and his angled drive arrowed across Adrian Chovan into the corner.

From then it was about maintaining the lead following such a rotten first half, which the Young Lions did well, limiting Slovakia to efforts from distance.

It was still a nervy finish with Slovakia launching balls into the box but England held out.

Source: PA




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