England Rally to Beat Slovakia at 2017 European U21 Championship

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2017

Slovakia's defender Martin Valjent (L) and England's midfielder Nathan Redmond vie for the ball during the UEFA U-21 European Championship Group A football match Slovakia v England in Kielce, Poland on June 19, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PIOTR NOWAK        (Photo credit should read PIOTR NOWAK/AFP/Getty Images)
PIOTR NOWAK/Getty Images

England kept their hopes alive of reaching the knockout rounds of the 2017 UEFA European U21 Championship as they came back from 1-0 down to beat Slovakia 2-1 in Group A at the Kolporter Arena in Poland on Monday.

A poor first half from the Young Lions saw them largely ineffective in attack while they were punished midway through the opening 45 minutes as Martin Chrien netted from a corner.

Aidy Boothroyd's England side were much improved after the break and turned the game on its head with goals from Alfie Mawson and Nathan Redmond early in the second half.

They clung on to claim a vital victory and are now heading Group A with four points ahead of their final match of the group stage against hosts Poland on Thursday.

The Times' Henry Winter provided the lineups ahead of kick-off:

England dominated possession early on but were limited to unthreatening long-range efforts.

They were then punished for poor organisation in the 23rd minute when Chrien was the first to reach Albert Rusnak's whipped corner, and he glanced a header past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from the edge of the six-yard box.

The Young Lions struggled in their attempts to respond to going behind as Slovakia defended stoutly, and Jaroslav Mihalik almost put his side 2-0 ahead just before half-time as he forced a save with a 25-yard effort.

England were back on level terms, though, just five minutes after the break as Mawson poked home from close range. 

Slovakia's midfielder Albert Rusnak (L) and England's defender Ben Chilwell vie for the ball during the UEFA U-21 European Championship Group A football match Slovakia v England in Kielce, Poland on June 19, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PIOTR NOWAK        (Photo c
PIOTR NOWAK/Getty Images

A half-cleared corner was delivered back into the box by Jacob Murphy, and Mawson eventually stabbed a rebound into the the net after his first effort was palmed away by Slovakia goalkeeper Adrian Chovan.

Just after the hour, Redmond put England ahead.

The Southampton winger received a sweeping ball on the left from club team-mate James Ward-Prowse, then cut inside and into the box before unleashing a shot that nestled in the corner after a slight deflection.

It proved to be the winning goal, but not before England survived an onslaught of set pieces from Slovakia in the closing minutes.

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