England’s U21s came agonisingly close v Germany on Tuesday night drawing 2-2 over 120 minutes but cruelly losing on penalties in their European championship semi-final. Nathan Redmond missed the crucial spot kick with Germany marching on to face either Spain or Italy in the final.
Davie Selke headed the Germans in front in the first half, before Demarai Gray and Tammy Abraham gave England the momentum either side of half time. But Germany rallied and deservedly equalised through substitute Felix Platte’s near post header.
Neither side were able to force a winner and extra time passed with tired legs, before the penalty drama brought England’s campaign to an end. England impressed in a frantic start as both teams tested the opposition keepers, Gray and Nathaniel Chalobah working Germany shot-stopper Julian Pollersbeck whilst Jordan Pickford had to be alert to stop a powerful effort from German front man Selke.
The game settled after around 20 minutes and chances became scarce, but Germany gained a stronghold on possession and led after 35 minutes when Selke planted a powerful header past Pickford after good play down the right.
Germany’s right flank was fast becoming a problem for England, Germany continuing to find gaps. But the men in white weathered the storm and Gray hauled them level six minutes later, smashing home a loose ball from a corner. The quiet Abraham then put England ahead five minutes after half time, stroking home from six yards after brilliant work from Will Hughes, the new Watford midfielder impressing in his first start of the tournament.
The Young Lions looked comfortable protecting their lead, and when Selke hobbled off with injury, the task looked simpler. But the game turned when the impressive Chalobah also left injured and Germany dominated thereafter, deservedly levelling through Platte’s powerful header on 70 minutes.
Germany were imperious from that moment on, laying siege to the England goal. Pickford saved from Philipp and Platte, while the Germans had another Platte header ruled out for offside. Extra time was a turgid affair, tired legs frequently wasting half chances, but Germany should have put the game to bed in the 115th minute, when Amiri somehow managed to miss the ball when the goal was open.
As the game moved to penalties, Yannick Gerhardt and Abraham saw efforts saved, but as the shootout moved to sudden death, Redmond crumbled under the pressure as Pollersbeck pushed his effort away to send the German fans into raptures.
Germany now progress to the U21 Euros Final though one insufferable certainty seemingly remains: England truly seem unable to beat Germany from the spot.
Written by Sam Hanys.
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