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UEFA EURO U-21

Sweden 0 - 0 England: U21 Euros: As it happened, match report

England and Sweden saw out a goal-less draw in the opening match of the 2017 Under 21 European Championships, with Jordan Pickford saving a penalty.

Update:
Sweden 0 - 0 England: U21 Euros: As it happened, match report
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England U21 0 - 0 Sweden U21: match report

Jordan Pickford was the hero in Kielce, as the Everton ‘keeper saved a second-half penalty to salvage a draw for England in the opening match of the 2017 European Championships. Sweden, the tournament holders, narrowly edged the encounter, but Linus Walhqvist’s lack of incision from the penalty spot cost the Scandinavians a winning start to their title defence.

Aidy Boothroyd’s side did not display the guile of their U20 peers, who lifted the World Cup in Korea earlier in June. Speculative passes to Tammy Abraham were the order of the day.

In a stadium packed with travelling Swedish fans, England started the match with swagger. Yet they could not convert the early pressure in to a clear-cut chance. Abraham, playing as a lone striker with support from Baker, Redmond, and Murphy, skewed a half-chance over the bar from a corner after ten minutes. The forward, who scored 26 goals on loan at Bristol City last season, probed the Swedish defence with his gung-ho directness.

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Pawel Cibicki, playing in attack for Sweden, squandered the best chance of the half after 27 minutes. The 23 year old leant back at the crucial moment when meeting a cut-back, and sent the ball flying over from close range. As German referee Tobias Stieler blew the half-time whistle, the match was shaping up to be a classic tournament opener; cagey and turgid, with both sides more focused on avoiding defeat than pressing for a win.

The match opened up after the break as tired legs left space to exploit. Cibicki rattled the bar for Sweden, before Ben Chilwell did the same for England. Kristoffer Olsson, wearing the captain’s armband for Sweden, was an understated yet constant menace in midfield.

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With ten minutes to go, the ball spun towards Linus Wahlqvist, just inside the box. Chilwell slid in to deflect the ball away from him. He did so, making contact with the ball before following through in to the player. Stieler pointed to the spot, a harsh decision. Walhqvist hauled himself up and placed the ball down, 12 yards out. His run up was casual, befitting of the cheeky ‘Panenka’ that followed it. But Pickford was not to be deceived. The recent arrival on Merseyside stuck his right palm to keep the score level.

The match ambled towards full time. It was hard not to speculate as to the difference that Rashford, Alli, and Sterling would have made. England showed sparks of promise, but were generally labored and unimaginative. They could not break down an astute Sweden side. Boothroyd’s team will have to invigorate their game if they are to progress far in Poland.

England U21 0 - 0 Sweden U21: as it happened

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