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Pickford earns England a point in Euro U21’s opener against champions Sweden

Sweden 0-0 England

It started off brightly for the young lions, who were dynamic, quick on the ball and incisive. They had Sweden firmly locked into their half whilst Murphy, Redmond and Abraham ran riot in their final third. Despite their dominance, the Swedish goalkeeper was not challenged, and their control on the game was short lived. Towards the end, it was England who were hanging on after they needed the assistance of Everton’s new £30m signing, Jordan Pickford, who used a strong hand to palm away Wahlqvist’s weak penalty which was awarded after Chilwell was over-zealous in an attempt to win the ball.

Tammy Abraham, the towering 6’4 striker was up front on his own, but did a magnificent job in using his strength to maximum effect and holding up the ball for his teammates. But nobody returned the favour. Murphy had great joy on the right wing, and had some good link-up play with Holgate, but when it came to delivering the ball into the box, all quality went out of the window. It was the same on the opposite side. Abraham was starved of opportunities because the balls played into him were so inaccurate and easy to defend against.

At times it felt like Abraham was fighting the Swedish defence on his own, Baker did not provide much assistance for Abraham, leaving him isolated. The midfield pairing, Chalobah and Ward-Prowse did not seem to work. Chalobah was a passenger for large parts of the game and did not mark his stamp on the game.

Despite that, England looked promising. They have the quality to score goals against sides like Sweden, but the final bit of quality was missing from their game today. At the back, England were comfortable. There was one moment of danger when England were nearly caught out when Franberg was advancing on the counter attack, but Mason Holgate produced a goal-saving challenge. Cibicki carved open the back-four when he linked up with Engvall with a one-two, but his shot was just over the bar.

Then Cibicki had a golden opportunity after a long ball into Fransson came into his path. He unleashed the shot, but thankfully for England, he was denied by the bar.

England were dangerous on set-pieces with a fantastic curled free-kick from Ward-Prowse which had the Swedish goalkeeper, Cajtoft, at full stretch. Corners were a problem for Sweden, but England could not capitalise.

A clean sheet and a point against the reigning European Champions at the start of the tournament is a good result, but England will rue their missed chances.

Player Ratings:

Sweden XI: Cajtoft 6; Wahlqvist 5, Une Larsson 6, Dagerstal 6, Lundqvist 6; Hallberg 6, Tibbling 7, Fransson , Olsson 6 ; Engvall 7, Cibicki 7

Subs used: Stranberg 6, Tankovic 6

England XI: Pickford 8 ; Holgate 6 , Chambers 6 , Mawson 6 , Chilwell 6; Ward-Prowse 7, Baker 6, Chalobah 5, Murphy 5; Redmond 5, Abraham 7

Subs used: Gray 5

Man of the Match – Pickford

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