The Young Lions of England broke their 14-year-old jinx in the U21 Euros by defeating the Czech Republic 2-0, in an exhilarating game that set the team off to an impressive start. Jacob Ramsey and Emile Smith Rowe emerged as the heroes of the match, scoring the two decisive goals.
A Marked Change in the Young Lions’ Approach
England Under 21s won an opening match at the European Championship for the first time since 2009, leaving behind five group stage exits and a sense of gloom. The English team, led by Lee Carsley, displayed a new approach to their game at Batumi. Despite being afforded numerous opportunities, the team displayed an exciting blend of flair and dynamism.
The team’s tactics, which favoured Anthony Gordon as a false nine over an evident sitting midfielder, gave a welcome shift to England’s U21 side. Many of the players who had been involved in the lacklustre 2021 campaign felt more liberated under Carsley’s administration.
A Fierce Clash and the Victory of the Young Lions
The Czechs’ aggressive high press led to some close calls early in the game, with James Trafford being caught out, and Vaclav Sejk missing a golden opportunity to score. Vasil Kusej was another threat, however, his multiple attempts to score went in vain.
The game’s turning moment came in the second half, when Aston Villa midfielder Jacob Ramsey put England ahead, signalling the start of the Young Lions’ more confident control of the game. Emile Smith Rowe of Arsenal, who came on as a substitute and scored the second goal in injury time, added to Arsenal’s lead.
The Young Lions showed no fear in a game marked by a disputed disallowed goal for England due to Morgan Gibbs-White’s alleged infraction. Their unwavering spirit and perseverance enabled them to comfortably close the match, defeating the Czech Republic and laying the groundwork for future battles.
The news of Germany’s draw against Israel was also welcomed, signalling a positive start to England’s Group C campaign.
England U21s, who previously led their qualifying group with victories over the Czech Republic, are looking forward to their forthcoming matches against reigning champions Germany and Israel after a promising start to their Euro 2023 finals campaign. Carsley put it clearly: “We’ve gotten off to a good start, so we’ve got to make sure we capitalise on that.”