England 3 - 1 Italy: match report
England progressed to the Under 20 World Cup final for the first time after a 1-3 victory over Italy in Jeonju, South Korea. Venezuela await in the final for Paul Simpson’s Young Lions, having edged past Uruguay on penalties in the other semi-final.
Yet England had to overcome an early blow. With two minutes on the clock, the England defence reacted slowly to a quick free-kick, allowing burly striker Andrea Favilli to wriggle in behind. His cut-back found Orsolini, who struck first time from the edge of the box. Freddie Woodman was rooted to the spot as the ball nestled in the bottom corner.
The team in white responded well. Lewis Cook and Ainsley Maitland-Niles controlled the rhythm of play from the centre of midfield, but there was a spark of creativity missing, an absence of guile. Marauding right-back Jonjoe Kenny, Kirkdale’s answer to Dani Alves, had the best chance of the first half. The Everton man could only direct Ademola Lookman’s deep cross over the bar and on to the roof of the net.
There was a decisive event after 55 minutes. Not a goal, but a substitution. Sheyi Ojo took the place of Kieran Dowell on the right side of midfield, and grabbed the match by the scruff of the neck. Ojo is a product of the prestigious academy at Milton Keynes Dons, which boasts Dele Alli among its alumni, and the Italian defence could not deal with his injection of pace and trickery.
Ojo flashed the ball across the face of goal ten minutes after his introduction. Zaccagno flapped at the cross, and succeeded only in directing the ball in to the path of Dominic Solanke, who side-footed the ball in to an unguarded net.
After 77 minutes, Ojo returned to terrorise Di Marco, Italy’s left back. This time, his cross was deep. It hung in the air for Solanke, his new team-mate at Liverpool, who knocked the ball down for Ademola Lookman. From close range, he put England ahead.
Solanke sealed the victory two minutes before the end with a rasping shot from 30 yards out, which squirmed beyond the clutches of the ‘keeper to seal England’s place in the final. Not since 1993 had England under 20s reached the semi-final stage of this competition, when Nicky Butt, David Unsworth, and co. crashed out at the hands of Ghana. 24 years later, the Young Lions have gone one stage further. On Sunday, they will go for the silverware.
England 3 - 1 Italy: as it happened
90'+3' Full time. England are through to the final of the U20 World Cup, where they will face Venezuela.
90'+3' A final change for England, as Konsa replaced Lookman. Until January, they were team-mates at Charlton.
90'+1' Solanke goes in search of his hat-trick, bullying defenders, shrugging them off to bring down a long ball. He shoots, but Romagna manages to block.
90' 3 minutes of added time indicated.
89' Ojo carries the ball from one side of the pitch to the other. He doesn't achieve much, but it's good for running the clock down.
88' GOL GOL GOL Solanke! The striker gets his second of the game from long range. Zaccagno got a hand to it, but it wriggled over the line. A good strike, but the 'keeper should have turned that around the post.
86' Scalera can count himself lucky to avoid a card following an agricultural challenge on Lookman. That'll be the right-back's last contribution, he's replaced by Bifulco.
84' Azzurri captain Mandragora is also booked, seemingly for excessive whinging at the Spanish referee.
83' Vido, the substitute, is booked for a clumsy challenge on Clarke-Salter.
83' England have a chance to break, but Maitland-Niles overhits his through-ball to Lookman, and it runs out of play.
79' Italy are finding it very difficult to deal with Ojo's combination of trickery, pace, and brute strength. Di Marco gives a away a free-kick for a fould on the former-MK Dons man.
78' Italy sub: Vido on for Vitale.
77' GOOALLLLLL! Lookman! Great work again by Ojo to chip a ball to the far post. The ball gets wedged between Solanke and Scalera, and drops perfectly for the Everton man to sweep home.
75' Silky, silky play from Lookman, who beats a couple of blue shirts before rolling the ball through Mandragora's legs.
74' England are looking far more likely to score the next goal. The Three Lions have added that bit of guile and ingenuity that they were missing in the first half.
71' Walker-Peters wins the ball in the Italian box through sheer tenacity, before cutting inside and flashing a shot towards goal. It deflects out for a corner, and Walker-Peters has another bite of the cherry. This time, his shot flies over.
69' Ghiglioni repalces Panico for Italy.
67' Calvert-Lewin is slipped in by the sensational Ojo and tries to square the ball to Solanke. Romagna gets back well, and the ball bounces off him in to the arms of the Zaccagno.
66' *Defender nutmegs attacker klaxon*. Tomori makes a fool of Favilli.
65' GOOOALLLLLL!! England draw level through Solanke! Ojo fizzed a cross in to the box, right down the so-called corridor of uncertainty, the 'keeper flaps at it, and Solanke strokes the ball in to an empty net.
63' Jonjoe Kenny is booked for a perfectly clean tackle on Favilli. I can't quite fathom that decision.
61' Ojo has breathed new life in to the England attack. He shimmies on to his left foot after collecting the ball from Lookman, and forces Zaccagno in to a smart save.
59' Ojooo! Not quite. A clever free-kick from Maitland-Niles, flicking the ball lightly to allow Ojo to run towards goal and shoot. It curls just wide.
58' England are turning the screw, increasing the volume... however you want to put it, they've made a good start to the second half.
56' Very close from Kenny. The Everton right back plays a one-two with Solanke, and sends a rasping shot just wide.
55' Ojo comes close to an immediate, decisive impact. His left-footed shot takes a deflection and spins narrowly wide of the post.
54' England make a change: Sheyi Ojo replaces Dowell.
53' What a run Solanke, a carries the ball from deep inside his own half, shrugging off the nibbling Italian defenders. So powerful. His left.footed shot flies narrowly over. That would have been a simply stunning goal.
50' Smart from Solanke, who opened his legs to allow the ball to run through to Calvert-Lewin. The former Sheffield United man lays the ball to Kenny, whose cross is blocked. The ball falls to Lewis Cook, who gives it away with an uncharacteristically loose pass.
47' Tomori stands up well to prevent Panico bursting through on goal. The Chelsea player now brings the ball out of defence and finds himself on the edge of the Italy box. Impressive stuff with and without the ball.
46' Favilli, Italy's burly number 9, rolls the ball back to start the second half. England trail to Orsolini's early goal.
England enjoyed 58% of possession in the first half, but as they say, there's only one statistic that matters...
Orsolini puts his hands to his ears after scoring. I'm not sure why, given how sparsely-populated the Jeonju Olympic Stadium.
England fell behind to an early Italian counter-attack, and have been unable to find a way past the stodgy Italian defence. Jonjoe Kenny had the best chance for Paul Simpson's side, turning Lookamn's cross over the bar from close range.
45' There goes the half time whistle.
43' Solanke is at it again. The recent arrival at Liverpool charges through the centre of the park after winning the ball from Pessina, and stings the palms of Zaccagno.
42' Walker-Peters cuts on to his right foot, and curls a brilliant cross towards Solanke. The striker gets a thin contact to it, and the ball bounces narrowly wide.
41' Italy get a shot away following a corner, but it takes a thick deflection and spins in to the arms of Woodman.
40' Superb play by Mandragora. He's the engine of this Italian side. He tackles Solanke, before spinning away from Cook with a graceful spin.
38' Italy are sitting very deep, saturating the attacking third of the pitch. Calvert-Lewin and Solanke are finding it difficult to find pockets of space.
37' Favilli is booked for a cynical trip on Bournemouth's Lewis Cook.
35' A good combination of physicality (no doubt taught during his loan spell at Ipswich under Mick McCarthy) and skill from Maitland-Niles allows Lookman to skip infield. He tees up Dowell, who leans back and scoops his shot over the bar.
34' Smart interception by Tomori to prevent Favilli running through on goal.
31' Walker-Peters tries to shepherd the ball out of play under pressure from Orsolini. But he's only a wee lad, and is forced to turn the ball behind. England nod the subsequent corner clear.
30' Kieran Dowell slices his clearance from an Italy corner and the ball skews over the crossbar. His heart was in his mouth for a moment there...
28' England try a cheeky free-kick routine, and completely fail to execute it. Lewis Cook ends up passing the ball straight in to the three-man Italian wall. Nice idea, a little more fine-tuning required.
27' Orsolini flies in late on Walker-Peters, and earns a spot in the referee's book. Cook stands over the ball, in a dangerous position to cross.
25' Lewis Cook and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are controlling the game from the centre of midfield. England are probing, look for an incisive final pass. So far, the Italian back three have been equal to everthing.
23' Kenny's cross is headed clear as far as Maitland-Niles. The Arsenal man slides the ball to Lewis Cook, who drags his shot wide from 30 yards.
22' Mandragora scoops an effort high over the bar from the edge of the box, under pressure from a back-tracking Solanke. Good defensive work by the striker.
20' Panico in the English defence! Italy's number 17 almost squeezes through, but Woodman is out quickly to clear the danger. There is no chance, none whatsover, that I have been waiting to shoe-horn that pub in to the live feed.
18' The England front three are lingering on the edge of the box as Zaccagno takes a goal kick. Italy are forced to go long.
16' Lookman floats a sumptuous pass to the far post, and it goes all the wat through to Kenny. It didn't look like he expected the ball to reach him, and he loops a close-range effort on to the roof of the net. That was England's first clear chance.
14' Superb forward pass, through the eye of a needle, from Kenny to Solanke. England's number 10 tries to slide in Calvert-Lewin, but a combination of Italian defender and goalkeeper averts the danger. There were half-hearted claims for a penalty, met with a waggle of the finger by the Spanish referee.
13' Orsolini cuts in on his left foot and curls a teasing cross in to the box. Tomori does well to get his head to it.
9' Solanke is dropping deep to pick up the ball, with Lookman and Calvert-Lewin drifting in to the space he vacates. Meanwhile, Kenny is bombing up the right at any opportunity. It's nice movement from England, who have been launching waves of attack since conceding.
8' Ademola Lookman accidentally catches Orsolini with a stray arm as he skipped beyond him on the left flank. There's no repeat of Joshua Onomah's harsh punishment in the previous round against Mexico, as the Spanish referee restarts the match.
4' This will be a test of England's mental strength. Italy scored with their first foray in to English territory. Pauol Simpson's side have settled in to possession as they look to claw themselves back in to this semi-final.
2' GOAALLLL! Italy in to an early lead! Orsolini sweeps the ball into the corner with a fine left-footed strike. Good work by Favilli in the build-up, but England were slow to react to a quick free kick.
1' England charge forward and win a corner. It is taken short and flashed across the face of goal by Kenny, and cleared by the Azzurri.
England get us underway!
Out trot the teams in to a sparsely-populated Jeonju Olympic Stadium. National anthem time.
With a little under ten minutes until kick-off in Jeonju, have a read of Nick Ames' article on England's performance so far in the tournament.
Uruguay miss their final penalty and there are tears of joy on the Venezuela bench! They will await England or Italy in the final.
In the other semi-final, Uruguay and Venezuela are about to start a penalty shoot-out. The match finished 1-1 AET.
That man Dominic Solanke recently completed a move from Chelsea to Liverpool, with the Anfield club set to pay a compensation fee of about €3.5m.
The main team news from the England camp is that Adam Armstrong drops to the bench. That move should see Dominic Solanke lead the line.
With just 30 minutes to play, Uruguay lead Venezuela in the other semi-final. We'll bring you full-time info as soon as the game is over.
Everton's rising star, Ademola Lookman, took centre stage in the quarter finals as England comfortably made it through. A tougher test awaits today.
England hoping new Liverpool player Solanke will be on target again for the "Young Lions"
Spanish veteran match official Antonio Mateu Lahoz will oversee today's game in Jeonju.
Welcome to our live coverage as we build-up to today's semi-final between Italy and England. Brush up on your knowledge of the two sides ahead of the game with a quick look at our preview below...
England U20 v Italy U20 live stream online: World Cup semi-final preview
England face Italy in the semi-final of the Under 20 World Cup in Jeonju, with the two teams wrestling for the chance to play either Uruguay or Venezuela in the final in South Korea.
It is the first time that England have reached this stage of the competition since 1993, when Nicky Butt starred in the centre of midfield for the Young Lions, and David Unsworth was but a young whipper-snapper.
Paul Simpson's side is sprinkled with technical ability and pace; driven on by the hope that this crop of youngsters will be the ones to make an impact on the England senior team.
England team news
England have reached this stage of the competion via victories against the Central American pair of Costa Rica (round-of-16) and Mexico (quarter-final).
According to manager Paul Simpson in an interview with The Set Pieces, the aim of the tournament is to instil mental fortitude in the young Englishman, something that was so glaringly absent for the senior team at Euro 2016.
“We want to get away from the fact that everyone says England teams can’t cope with tournaments. We want to give them the experience so that in future we can deal with tournaments and be better at them.”
The England team has retained a consistent spine throughout the tournament, Lewis Cook captaining the side from the centre of midfield. In attack, recent Liverpool signing Dominic Solanke was the man who scored the only goal of the game against Mexico in the previous round.
There are five Everton players in the squad. Two of them, Jonjoe Kenny and Kieron Dowell, combine well on the right flank.
Tottenham midfielder Joshua Onomah will be unavailable due to suspension. He was sent off in harsh circumstances against Mexico.
Italy team news
Alberigo Evani's Italy scraped past an impressive Zambia side in the quarter-final to set up this clash with England, despite some questionable decision-making from the referee.
Thge Italian side are not short on attacking talent. Riccardo Orsolini, one of Juventus' vast herd of loaned out players, in his case at Serie B club Ascoli, has scored four goals so far in the tournament. Juventus saw enough talent to pay €6m for his services.
Yet at the back, Italy are more circumspect. The Azzurri have only managed to keep one clean sheet so far in the tournament, against South Africa.
England U20 v Italy U20 live stream online: match odds and betting
Will Italy discover the defence solidarity for which calcio is famed? They're at 13/2 to sneak a 1-0 win.
Follow the live coverage match of World Cup Qualifying between: Spain-Italy