England U21’s have won the Group stage of their European U21 Championship for the first time since 2009, comfortably beating a 10-man Poland 3-0 to finish at the top of Group A.
England had won their last two games of the group and this match was a must win, which they did with arguably their best performance so far during these finals to achieve more than they did during 2011,2013 and 2015 combined.
Demarai Gray, Jacob Murphy and Lewis Baker’s penalty sealed the comfortable 3-0 win to put them ahead of Slovakia, who beat Sweden 3-0.
The scoring was opened in the 6th minute. Ben Chilwell took the ball down the left flank before working it to club team-mate Gray who rifled a right-footed effort into Jakub Wrabel’s left corner.
Norwich forward Murthy scored the 2nd in the 69th minute. Grey had played the ball across the 6-yard box for the substitute to easily put into an empty net.
In the 82nd minute Tammy Abraham won a penalty for England after Jan Bednarek brought him down as the striker drove towards the six-yard box. The Poland defender was sent off for picking up his second yellow. Baker took the penalty and found Wrabel’s bottom right corner to seal the win for the Young Lions.
A delighted Aidy Boothroyd the Under 21’s head coached, hailed his players afterwards for the way they went out and played to the best of their ability, against the tournament hosts.
‘I believed we could get to the semi-finals and we have got there. We have gone from being one of the best 12 to one of the best four. The plan is to be one of the best two and then, hopefully, the best one. We are improving.’
England will not now have to wait until the completion of the group stage on Saturday to find out their semi-final opponents.