Monday 19th June 2017
Under 21 Euros Group Stage
Slovakia U21 1-2 England U21
Slovakia U21: 8 (23)
England U21: Mawson (50), Redmond (61)
This was a very competitive match from the offset with both Slovakia and England showing how much they wanted to win the game. Slovakia got the opener with Martin Chrien scoring a headed goal from a corner, but goals from Alfie Mawson and Nathan Redmond alongside some very resolute defending in the latter stages of the game were enough to secure the win for England.
There were a lot of hard tackles going in early on and in the 13th minute Matúš Bero picked up a yellow card for a challenge on Nathaniel Chalobah. England were having a lot of possession, but neither team were able to carve a real chance out for themselves and were reduced to speculative efforts due to the intensity of both teams’ defensive work.
However, in the 23rd minute Slovakia got a corner and were able to make the most of it. The ball was sent in towards the front post where Chrien was on hand to meet it and head it into the far corner to put Slovakia 1-0 up.
England failed to make any real response in the first half, as a lot of their play looked relatively slow and laboured. James Ward-Prowse picked up a yellow card in the 27th minute for a lunge tackle. England began to look frustrated, but kept playing their possession based football.
They were unable to make any sort of breakthrough and the sides went into half time with Slovakia 1-0 up.
England really came out of the blocks fast in the second half, instantly applying pressure on Slovakia’s defence. In the 49th minute Redmond managed to cut inside the defender and shot towards goal, but goalkeeper Adrián Chovan was able to parry the ball wide. The resulting corner was over hit, but Jacob Murphy, who had only come on at half time, retrieved it and crossed it more accurately into the box. Mawson managed to turn it towards goal with his head, with his original effort being saved, but he followed it up and managed to get the ball passed Chovan to bring the scores level.
England really kicked on and grew in confidence following their first goal of the tournament, continuing to dominate the ball, but more importantly they were beginning to turn this into chances. In the 61st minute this paid dividends. James Ward-Prowse played the ball over to Redmond who cut inside the Slovakian defender on the edge of the box before sending the ball flying into the top corner to make it 2-1 to England. Chovan had managed to get his fingertips to the ball but there was nothing he could do to keep it out.
Slovakia were clearly frustrated that they had let their lead slip and Róbert Mazán picked up a yellow card for a foul on Murphy. The Slovakians dominated the latter stages of the game and England had to stand strong to keep them out. Calum Chambers and Mawson stood strong and Jordan Pickford was commanding whenever he was called into action. Murphy and Lewis Baker both received yellows in the dying moments, but they won’t be too concerned about that as England managed to hold on for the points.
The game ended 2-1 which puts England top on four points after Poland and Sweden drew 2-2. Slovakia are now in second place. This means that if England record a win against Poland in the final group match they will go through as top of the group.
PLAYER RATINGS (out of 10)
Chovan (6); Valjent (6) Ninaj (6), Škriniar (6), Mazán (6); Rusnák (6), Lobotka (7), Chrien (7) (Bénes (6) 66), Mihalík (6) (Haraslin (6) 74); Bero (7), Zrelák (6) (Šafranko (6) 66)
England U21 (4-1-2-1-2)
Pickford (7); Holgate (5) (Murphy (7) HT), Mawson (7), Chambers (7), Chilwell (6); Chalobah (6); Baker (6), Ward-Prowse (7); Swift (6) (Gray (6) 80); Abraham (6) (Woodrow (N/A 88), Redmond (8)
MAN OF THE MATCH
The Southampton winger may have been deployed as a striker in this match, but he did not look out of place at all. His running in behind the Slovakian defence caused plenty of problems and he worked tirelessly for his team. Redmond’s performance was topped off by him scoring England’s winner with a very well taken goal.