The England Under-21s capped off their stellar performances at the European Championships in Georgia and Romania with their third titles. In the Batumi final, the young Lions defeated European champions Spain 1-0 (1-0) and thus lifted the European Championship trophy for the first time in 39 years. On the other hand, the Spaniards failed to overtake Italy by winning number six and becoming the sole record holder.
Liverpool’s Curtis Jones (45 + 4) scored the winning goal for England under the watchful eye of senior national coach Gareth Southgate, who sealed the early end for defending champions Germany in the preliminary round. English goalkeeper James Trafford saved a penalty kick from Abel Ruiz in stoppage time (90 + 9). For the first time in the history of the European Under-21 Championship, a team won every game without conceding a goal. After the penalty kick, Morgan Gibbs-White and Antonio Blanco each saw yellow and red.
Two red cards make a fuss
The match at the Adjarabet Arena on the Black Sea started as expected and very quickly. But for a long time, there was little to be seen of the attacking power of both teams after two big chances for England’s Gibbs White (6) and on the other side Alex Baena (12). Bad passes, fouls and yellow cards accumulated much more than that – five in the first half alone, plus two red cards against an assistant coach each after a package formed after the opening goal.
Jones scored by deflecting a direct free kick from Manchester City’s Cole Palmer, who had already dominated the semi-finals with three goals, into the opponent’s wall. Previously, Baena had been lucky not to have to leave the field with his second caution after a tactical foul. Levi Colwell, England defender from Chelsea, also headed the crossbar (44).
Spain is going in vain
Immediately after changing sides, Baena’s somewhat overzealous focus was on him, and he was pursued after a duel – but he got away with a caution again (50th place). The supposed equalizer was ruled out by Spaniard Abel Ruiz for offside (51), and the top scorer and captain missed another dangerous header opportunity (69).
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