European Under-21 Championships: England Slump to Italy, Norway Tie Israel
The European Under-21 Championships are underway, and Matchday 1 provided plenty of entertainment to whet our appetites.
Here, we begin our daily wrap of the action, summising what happened, picking out the key players and analysing teams' chances of progressing.
Let's get straight to it.
Israel 2-2 Norway
The tournament opener was a scintillating affair, with golazos, red cards and controversial decisions—what more can you ask for?
Norway dominated the opening stages only for the hosts to be awarded a dubious penalty in the 16th minute. Nir Biton converted calmly after Omar Elabdellaoui brought down Omri Ben Harush.
A setback, sure, but the Drillos continued to monopolise the ball and pin Israel back, and were rewarded for their good play with an equaliser just eight minutes later.
Marcus Pedersen received the ball in the box, eventually controlled it, swiveled, and fired into the bottom corner expertly.
Most onlookers expected plain sailing for Norway from then on, but a straight red card for Vegar Hedenstad after bringing down Mohammed Kalebat gave the hosts hope of an upset victory. Again, the decision seemed soft.
In the second half, Israel took the lead through Alon Turgeman's volley and the result seemed sealed, but Harmeet Singh popped up at the death to fire in from outside the box. 2-2!
England 0-1 Italy
Italy got their campaign off to a winning start, beating a sub-par England side 1-0 in Tel Aviv.
The Three Lions appeared disjointed throughout and struggled to gel together as a team, with the right side in particular housing great individuals but little interlinking football.
Marco Verratti controlled the game from deep for Italy and caused his opponents plenty of problems, but it seemed England had taken the lead through Craig Dawson's header from a corner.
The goal, though, was ruled out in strange circumstances, and Lorenzo Insigne fired in a wonderful a free kick late on to steal the three-point haul.
Stuart Pearce's men were deserved losers, and despite feeling hard done by with Dawson's disallowed goal, they had earlier escaped a clear penalty decision when Jack Robinson took down Alessandro Florenzi.
Matchday 2 sees the Spain face Russia, then the Netherlands take on Germany. Check back daily for B/R's daily wraps.
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