Wednesday, June 15, 2011

England's Young Lions Fire Blanks!

The 2011

Group B


Ukraine 0
England 0

A late Danny Welbeck strike last Sunday, earned England a creditable 1-1 draw in their opening UEFA European Under-21 Championship group game, against a strong Spanish outfit.

But England's young lions failed to capitalise on Sunday's performance, as they fluffed their lines and suffered stage fright in Herning tonight at the hands of the Ukraine, and were held to a goalless draw against a team considered the weakest in the 'group of death.'

England lacked imagination throughout a docile encounter, with too many long balls lumped forward towards an isolated Danny Welbeck, who admirably tried to create something out of virtually nothing.

It was Ukraine and their forward Denys Garmash, who had the game's first real attempt. He struck from 20 yards after a strong run, but a deflection took the ball off target. Ukraine's next chance of the match fell to Konoplyanka, whose 25-yard drive was pushed away by keeper Frank Fielding, but only into the path of Maxym Biliy who was denied a shot on goal by a brilliant challenge from Chelsea left-back Ryan Bertrand.

Shakhtar Donetsk defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy was the next to go close for Ukraine, drilling a 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide.

Daniel Sturridge (right) was the pick of the young England players, and came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 32nd minute.
Bringing down a high ball 30 yards out, the Chelsea striker sent a vicious dipping volley over the head of Kanibolotskiy, but with the keeper well beaten, the ball crashed off the cross-bar and bounced away to safety.
England finished the first half on top but went into the break goalless.

After the break Sturridge drilled a fierce free-kick too close to Kanibolotskiy.
Welbeck then wasted the best chance of the second-half courtesy of another moment of magic from Sturridge. His incredible volleyed pass sending Welbeck clean through only for the Manchester United striker to slice his chance horribly wide.

On the hour mark the ineffective Jack Rodwell and Danny Rose were substituted, to be replaced by Henri Lansbury and Scott Sinclair, and the pair made an instant impact, Lansbury pouncing on a loose ball and feeding Sinclair, who's control let him down.

Sturridge then had a shot blocked as England, like on Sunday, committed more men forward late on, but the Ukraine knew a draw was even more damaging for them than for their opponents.

England failed to build on their small amount of pressure, instead allowing Ukraine to come back into the game.
Ukraine threw on Zozulya for Kravets with 20 minutes remaining, and they almost broke the deadlock eight minutes from time when Phil Jones' first error of the match let in Zozulya, but Fielding produced a fine stop.

Lansbury was involved in everything good England were doing and Stuart Pearce's men nearly snatched it late on when Lansbury drilled a shot just wide from 20 yards, and Sturridge's 30-yard blast was tipped round the post by Kanibolotskiy, who then saved Welbeck's header from the resulting corner.

A win tonight would have left England needing only a draw to progress but the reality is now that England are left with a must-win final group game against the Czech Republic at the weekend, if they are to progress to the semi-finals of the Euro 2011 tournament.

Earlier tonight Spain beat the Czech Republic 2-0 in Viborg, and now sit top of the group with 4 points from their opening 2 games, with the Czech Republic lying 2nd on 3 points after defeating the Ukraine in their opening game. England have 2 points from 2 games and the Ukraine 1 point from 2 games.

England's U21 team tonight:

Fielding, Walker, Smalling, Jones, Bertrand, Henderson, Mancienne (Muamba '89), Rodwell (Lansbury '57), Sturridge, Welbeck, Rose (Sinclair '58).

Subs: McCarthy, Muamba, Albrighton, Sinclair, Tomkins, Cork, Cleverley, Lansbury, Delfouneso, Wickham, Steele.

To Play:

19.06.11 - England v. Czech Republic - Viborg Stadium, Viborg - ko 19:45, live on Sky Sports.
19.06.11 - Ukraine v. Spain - Herning Stadium, Herning - ko 19:45, live on Sky Sports.

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