Soccer

England Under-21s reach Euro 2023 final after brushing aside Israel

Morgan Gibbs-White put England ahead in Georgia (PA)
Morgan Gibbs-White put England ahead in Georgia (PA) Morgan Gibbs-White put England ahead in Georgia (PA)

England Under-21s breezed into the Euro 2023 final to move to the brink of ending their 39-year drought.

The Young Lions last won the competition in 1984 but eased past Israel 3-0 to reach Saturday’s final, where they will play Spain after they thumped Ukraine 5-1.

Morgan Gibbs-White – after he missed a penalty – Cole Palmer and Cameron Archer netted to secure a final spot, England’s first since 2009, with Lee Carsley’s side yet to concede in Georgia.

Having already beaten Israel 2-0 in the group stage, the Young Lions were confident with Levi Colwill nodding over Gibbs-White’s early free-kick.

But they should have taken the lead when Gibbs-White missed from the spot after 17 minutes.

It took four minutes for VAR to rule Anthony Gordon was fouled by Karm Jaber – after Emile Smith Rowe had a shot cleared off the line before hitting the post – only for Gibbs-White to fire wide.

It boosted Israel’s belief with England frustrated but Carsley’s men maintained their composure and Gibbs-White atoned for his miss three minutes before the break.

The Nottingham Forest midfielder ghosted in late to reach Palmer’s delivery and rose between two Israel defenders to nod the ball into the top corner from 12 yards.

England celebrate
England celebrate Morgan Gibbs-White put England ahead in Georgia (PA)

The half ended with Israel refusing to press and England keeping the ball, barely moving, and they remained in control after the restart.

Smith Rowe scuffed a shot and Gordon saw an effort deflect wide but Palmer finally doubled the lead after 64 minutes.

Gibbs-White found Smith Rowe, who crossed for Manchester City forward Palmer to convert – only for the goal to initially be ruled out for offside.

Another long VAR check again went in England’s favour as Smith Rowe was adjudged to be onside and the goal stood.

There was still time for substitute Archer to add a third in stoppage time when he smashed in Palmer’s pass.

Spain will prove a sterner test after their rout of Ukraine. They came from behind after Artem Bondarenko opened the scoring but Abel Ruiz quickly levelled.

Oihan Sancet gave Spain the lead at the break with Antonio Blanco, Aimar Oroz and Sergio Gomez adding second-half strikes.