Sweden U21 0-0 England U21 – BBC Sport

Tammy Abraham (right)

Tammy Abraham (right) had two half-chances for England

Everton’s £30m signing Jordan Pickford saved a late penalty as England opened their European Under-21 Championship campaign with a draw against Sweden.

The 23-year-old stuck out an arm to stop Linus Wahlqvist’s poor spot-kick and also saved Carlos Strandberg’s tame follow-up.

However, it was an underwhelming display by England, who only had one effort on target.

Sweden had the best chance when Pawel Cibicki’s strike came off the bar.

England have managed only one win in their last 10 matches in the competition.

Both England and Sweden sit behind Group A leaders Slovakia, who fought from a goal down to stun hosts Poland 2-1 in the later game.

Patryk Lipski gave Poland the lead after only 53 seconds, before Martin Valjent and substitute Pavol Safranko scored the goals to give Slovakia the perfect start to their campaign.

England play Slovakia on Monday.

England struggle in Euro opener

Gareth Southgate (centre)<!–

Former England U21 manager and current senior boss Gareth Southgate was in the Kielce Stadium to watch Boothroyd’s side

It is a match that will not live long in the memory of those who watched it.

England manager Aidy Boothroyd set up his team to attack the Swedes, who are the defending champions, out wide in the final third. However, more often than not the balls into the area failed to find his players. It was immediacy rather than accuracy from England.

Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham, linked with a move to Newcastle or Brighton after a fruitful loan spell at Bristol City, had a couple of half-chances in the first 45 minutes – instinctive hooked shots that cleared the Sweden bar. Norwich’s Jacob Murphy went closer with a strike from 20 yards that flew just over.

England’s best opportunity came after the break when Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse saw his 25-yard free-kick pushed away by Swedish keeper Anton Cajtoft, who had a largely untroubled 90 minutes.

Sweden, on the other hand, were unlucky not to go in front in the second half. First, Cibicki’s stunning effort bounced off the woodwork and then substitute Strandberg was through on goal but found the side-netting with his strike.

In the 80th minute, it seemed that Sweden’s luck was about to change when Leicester defender Ben Chilwell brought down Wahlqvist in the area. The Norrkoping defender took the penalty, but his weak strike was stopped easily by Pickford who then stayed upright to collect Strandberg’s effort – the only two saves he had to make.

‘Satisfactory, but England have room for improvement’ – analysis

BBC Radio 5 live’s chief football correspondent Ian Dennis

England haven’t fared well in this competition in the last three tournaments and so when Sweden were awarded a penalty nine minutes from time, it didn’t bode well.

With the finals expanded to 12 teams, only the group winners are guaranteed to qualify for the semi-finals. So defeat would have been extremely costly.

Jordan Pickford was the saviour, which prompted Aidy Boothroyd to give his keeper the thumbs up but it was a poor penalty, half-hearted, straight down the middle. Still it required a strong right hand from Pickford, fully focused in the wake of his £30m move to Everton, and hailed by Boothroyd as a “fantastic role model”.

It was a fair result. Where England should gain encouragement is in the fact that they have held the defending champions while knowing they can play better.

England made a promising start with Jacob Murphy prominent down the right but overall lacked a cutting edge and after the break there was very little width.

Twice in the second half, England went close but I felt Sweden were the stronger side after half-time.

Pawel Cibicki was a handful, with his awareness and movement, as was Carlos Strandberg but it is the defending champions who will feel disappointment because they squandered a chance of victory.

Opening day verdict – satisfactory, but room for improvement for England ahead of Monday’s game against Slovakia.

‘We are reasonably happy’

England manager Aidy Boothroyd: “Chilwell got the ball but the directive is that you can’t go off your feet. These are the moments which change games and we’ve got a terrific goalkeeper.

“In an ideal world, you play really well and win the game but what you don’t want to do is lose. It was a typical opening game of a tournament, both teams could have played better. Overall it was a fair result.

“We could have moved the ball quicker and attacked crosses better. A lot of the players haven’t played 90 minutes for a long time and are feeling it. We are reasonably happy, made a solid start.”

Live Text

Match ends, Sweden U21 0, England U21 0.

Second Half ends, Sweden U21 0, England U21 0.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Anton Cajtoft (Sweden U21) because of an injury.

Anton Cajtoft (Sweden U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Tammy Abraham (England U21).

Attempt missed. Pawel Cibicki (Sweden U21) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Kerim Mrabti.

Foul by Melker Hallberg (Sweden U21).

Lewis Baker (England U21) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Kerim Mrabti (Sweden U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Lewis Baker (England U21).

Foul by Carlos Strandberg (Sweden U21).

Mason Holgate (England U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jacob Une Larsson (Sweden U21).

Mason Holgate (England U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Carlos Strandberg (Sweden U21) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Alfie Mawson (England U21).

Foul by Muamer Tankovic (Sweden U21).

James Ward-Prowse (England U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Sweden U21. Muamer Tankovic replaces Simon Tibbling.

Foul by Linus Wahlqvist (Sweden U21).

Nathan Redmond (England U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Sweden U21. Conceded by Ben Chilwell.

Attempt saved. Carlos Strandberg (Sweden U21) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Penalty saved! Linus Wahlqvist (Sweden U21) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the centre of the goal.

Penalty Sweden U21. Linus Wahlqvist draws a foul in the penalty area.

Penalty conceded by Ben Chilwell (England U21) after a foul in the penalty area.

Attempt missed. Simon Tibbling (Sweden U21) header from the right side of the box misses to the left.

Attempt missed. Lewis Baker (England U21) left footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Nathan Redmond.

Substitution, Sweden U21. Kerim Mrabti replaces Alexander Fransson.

Corner, England U21. Conceded by Anton Cajtoft.

Attempt saved. James Ward-Prowse (England U21) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Substitution, England U21. Demarai Gray replaces Jacob Murphy.

Foul by Kristoffer Olsson (Sweden U21).

Lewis Baker (England U21) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Carlos Strandberg (Sweden U21).

Nathaniel Chalobah (England U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Alfie Mawson (England U21) header from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse with a cross following a corner.

Corner, England U21. Conceded by Jacob Une Larsson.

Attempt blocked. Ben Chilwell (England U21) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Lewis Baker.

Comments

Write a Reply or Comment:

Your email address will not be published.*