x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Rampant Germany too good for England

Germany are crowned the European Under 21 champions after sweeping aside England 4-0 in Sweden.

Germany's Mesut Ozil, second left, celebrates with teammates after scoring against England in Malmo. The Germans ran out convincing 4-0 victors.
Germany's Mesut Ozil, second left, celebrates with teammates after scoring against England in Malmo. The Germans ran out convincing 4-0 victors.

MALMO // Stuart Pearce's England Under 21s were crushed in their European Championship final on an evening that featured a goalkeeping error and a ruthless German victory. Mesut Ozil's long-range free kick embarrassed the stand-in goalkeeper Scott Loach but England were already trailing at that stage to Gonzalo Castro's opener at Swedbank Stadion. Sandro Wagner then added two late goals to continue Pearce's jinx against Germany, after losing to them twice as a player in major tournaments. This clash for England's youngsters was defined by the fact that Pearce had Gabriel Agbonlahor and Fraizer Campbell suspended, meaning Theo Walcott was the lone striker and had no support. Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer did not make a save throughout the one-sided match, leaving Pearce to rue leaving Daniel Sturridge with the Under 20s. By defeating Sweden on penalties on Friday they got over their spot-kick hoodoo in semi-finals ? but facing Germany at the business end of a tournament is something different altogether. Pearce, so intense and focused during the tournament, also had Joe Hart suspended, so Loach started in goal, and his first real action saw him picking the ball out of the net midway through the first half. Ozil was the architect, receiving the ball from Fabian Johnson before running at the England defence and playing a through ball between Martin Cranie and Loach. It was perfectly weighted for Castro, who stabbed the ball over Loach and in. With their confidence bolstered, the Germany full-back Sebastian Boenisch tried his luck from 30 yards and whistled a drive just wide of Loach's post. Germany looked comfortable shifting the ball around and giving England's defence problems. There had already been a warning before the opener when Micah Richards prevented danger, blocking after Sami Khedira had pulled the ball back for Ozil. England had hoped to unleash Walcott's pace on the Germans but it proved difficult. He did get an early sighter when Fabrice Muamba started a swift counter-attack with an intelligent pass, then James Milner played the ball through ? but Walcott sliced his finish wide of the near post. That was as close as it got for England in the first half, then three minutes after the restart Germany grabbed their second. Michael Mancienne, on at the break for Nedum Onuoha, fouled Wagner 35 yards from goal and Ozil took charge of the set-piece. The Werder Bremen playmaker was helped by England's wall falling apart and Loach could not handle the swerving effort, falling too far to his right before getting a palm on the ball and helping it in. Pearce urged his youngsters to dig deep and find a way back into the game and Lee Cattermole tried his best, skimming the bar from long distance when he was given time on the ball. Then Milner left Boenisch on his backside with a piece of trickery before pulling the ball back for Adam Johnson, whose finish was cleared off the line by Andreas Beck. When Milner fooled Boenisch again the defender clattered him on the touchline, right in front of Pearce, who clenched his fists angrily at the German. It was pure frustration from Pearce as the match drifted away from his youngsters. Cattermole had an effort cleared off the line but Germany extended their lead with 11 minutes remaining. Ozil nicked the ball in midfield before marauding forward and releasing Wagner, who finished through Loach's legs. Wagner then added the fourth, in the 84th minute, curling into the far corner neatly following a counter-attack.

* PA Sport