Soccer

Lee Carsley feels lucky to coach England Under-21s as they eye Euro 2023 glory

Morgan Gibbs-White struck first (PA)
Morgan Gibbs-White struck first (PA) Morgan Gibbs-White struck first (PA)

Lee Carsley backed his England Under-21s to create history after reaching the Euro 2023 final.

Morgan Gibbs-White, Cole Palmer and Cameron Archer eased England past Israel 3-0 and they will face Spain in Georgia on Saturday.

It is the first time since 2009 they have made the European final and have not won the tournament since 1984.

England Under-21s celebrate
England Under-21s celebrate England Under-21s beat Israel in the semi-finals (PA)

“It’s a great achievement for the players. We spoke about creating our own history,” Carsley told a press conference.

“We’ve done well up till now, but the next thing is the biggest thing. It comes in three days, so recovery will be important now.

“I still think we’ve still got a lot of improving to do. There’s still another level for this team to go. They’ve really grown as a group and they’re getting everything they deserve.

“I’m so, so pleased for them because I’m a big believer that we’ve got so much quality and they just need the opportunity.

“To watch how they’ve developed on and off the pitch has been brilliant. We sometimes take for granted the level of players we’re producing.

“We’ve now mainly got to recover, and for the lads to get a bit of down time, and then look ahead to the final. They’re so motivated to do well, I’m so lucky.

“All the credit goes to the squad, they’re a very determined bunch. They have a lot of pride in possession, but also in the blocks and clearances. But there are still a lot of things we can sharpen up ahead of the next game.”

Gibbs-White missed a 17th-minute penalty after Anthony Gordon was fouled – following a lengthy VAR check – with Emile Smith Rowe having a shot cleared off the line and hitting the post seconds before.

Morgan Gibbs-White celebrates
Morgan Gibbs-White celebrates Morgan Gibbs-White, right, struck first (PA)

But the Nottingham Forest midfielder headed in from 12 yards with three minutes of the first half left to atone for his error.

Palmer made it 2-0 just after the hour when he converted Smith Rowe’s cross, although the Manchester City player needed to wait for a VAR check.

The midfielder then laid the ball on for Archer to add a third in stoppage time as the Young Lions reached the final without conceding a goal.