England’s u19s prevailed with an enthralling 3-2 victory over Germany, capped off by an excellent strike from one of Arsenal’s brightest youth prospects.
Ainsley-Maitland Niles, currently on-loan at Championship side Ipswich Town, sealed a morale-boosting win in some style despite the Young Lions going down to ten men shortly after the second-half had begun.
Tafari Moore, who endured a injury-hit campaign last term, got a much-needed 90 minutes under his belt at right-back with captain Jake Clarke-Salter and Taylor Moore helping to solidify the defence when required.
At the BELKAW Arena in Bergisch Gladbach, it was Aidy Boothroyd’s men who took the lead ten minutes before the half-time whistle. Towards the end of a half with plenty of half-chances, but no goals to show for it, the visitors took their opportunity to clinical effect at the end of a fast-paced counter-attacking move.
Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts passed the ball onto Chelsea’s Dominic Solanke. The 17-year-old used his strength to shrug off a challenge before unselfishly squaring the ball onto Liverpool winger Sheyi Ojo in the centre, who had no problems from close-range to slot home.
After the restart the momentum shifted within minutes. Jonjoe Kenny, on loan at Wigan Athletic from Everton, was given his marching orders after a blatant handball on the goal-line to deny Suat Serdar from levelling the score, after he sped past Moore on the left before firing past Freddie Woodman goalwards.
Prince-Osei Owusu took the resulting spot-kick and made no mistake from twelve yards to equalise.
They could have gone ahead, if it was not for the quick reactions of Woodman to deny left-back Max Mittelstadt’s volley. Solanke’s agility and willingness to get himself into forward positions was evident, as his tireless work-rate earned him a goal just ten minutes into the second-half.
Germany were pushed back towards their own area by the teenager, and he capitalized on a fatal error from goalkeeper Timo Konigsmann to slot home from range, with the goal gaping at his mercy.
Some neat play between Maitland-Niles and Callum Connolly, who came on at left-back, saw the Arsenal youngster with the ball at his feet in midfield. Having turned, he accelerated towards goal and let fly with a sweetly-struck effort which floated into the top corner from 25 yards out, with Konigsmann having no chance of saving it.
Marcus Sorg’s men were well and truly out of the contest and, despite their late efforts, Benjamin Henrichs’ effort on the edge of the area proved to only be a consolation goal as the Young Lions grabbed a slender but deserved victory.