Day Seven of The UEFA European Under-21 Championship took place on Thursday. Slovakia took on Sweden in Lublin, whilst group leaders England faced hosts Poland in a crucial game for Aidy Boothroyd’s team.
UEFA European Under-21 Championship Day Seven Review
Slovakia 3 – 0 Sweden
England 3 – 0 Poland
England finish top of Group A
England needed to match or better Slovakia’s result in the group’s other fixture to get out of the European Under-21 Championship group stage for the first time since 2009. Starting well, Demarai Gray scored a vital goal for the Young Lions, but Pavel Hapal’s side had a two-goal lead within 22 minutes. As half-time neared Poland could have been down by more were it not for Jakub Wrąbel making some key saves.
The next 45 minutes decided the fate of Group A. Both teams led at half-time, but nothing was guaranteed. In Kielce, the hosts began to apply pressure. However, that pressure led to what was a group-deciding goal. Lewis Baker scored and the Young Lions had come through in a huge moment. The Chelsea midfielder then went on to add a third from the penalty spot, with Poland going down to 10-men in the process.
England secure semi-final place
England’s win means they finish top of Group A. They will find out who they will play in the next few days. As group winners, they have three potential pathways. They could play either runner-up of Group B if they qualify. As things stand, it looks as if Portugal will come out of Group B as runner-up. Another possibility is the runner-up from Group C, likely Italy or the Czech Republic. Now, Italy and Portugal sound like difficult opponents, but there is a third option. If the Italians, Portuguese and Czechs all fail to qualify, England will face Group C winners Germany. Whoever they play, expect it to be a test, because you don’t make it this far by mistake.
Chalobah and Redmond both doubts for semi-final
In Thursday’s group-deciding win, both Nathaniel Chalobah and Nathan Redmond were substituted with injuries. Losing two key players will cost England and fans will hope both players can make a recovery in time for their biggest game so far.
Player of the day—Demarai Gray
Gray scored the opener and set up England’s second. The Leicester City winger replaced Tammy Abraham on the day and the move paid offh. Expect Gray to play a part in the semi-final, as he would be a great alternative option if Redmond is injured.