Germany were nerveless like their former countrymen to eliminate England on penalties and book their place in the 2017 under 21s European Championships final.
The Germans broke the deadlock via Davie Selke, who sent a free header into the top corner on 34 minutes. England grabbed an equaliser on the verge of half-time when Gray was present to gobble up a loose ball and fire his finish into the roof of the net.
England under 21s took the lead for the first time just four minutes after the break when Tammy Abraham scored from close range. Will Hughes worked his magic inside the penalty area, by “twinkle toeing” his way through a crowd of Germans and squaring the ball to Abraham.
Germany forced half-time by scoring with 20 minutes remaining through substitute Felix Platte. Maximilian Arnold lifted his corner deliver towards the near post and Platte glanced a bullet header beyond Pickford.
The remainder of the second half was largely dominated by Germany, as was a large percentage of extra time. England made one attacking move, bringing on Nathan Redmond for Demarai Gray. However, this decision would cost them dearly when Nathan Redmond missed the decisive spot kick to send Germany into the 2017 under 21s European Championships final.
England started promisingly by playing a high pressing system, pressing with their front-three. Will Hughes also advanced forward from deep to play as an imaginative and creative midfielder in the final third.
It was a case of taking their opportunities and England failed to convert various attacking chances in the early stages. Germany under 21s gradually grew into the game and utilized the right hand side as an attacking outlet.
Toljan, Germany’s promising right-back, made continuous overlapping runs and England struggled to contain them. Hughes half-heartedly hovered around the left flank but his presence failed to create a barrier.
This eventually cost them dearly when Toljan made an overlapping run into the penalty area to assist Davie Selke for the opening goal. It was also poorly defended by England, who left Selke completely unmarked to gift Germany the lead.
Mawson rightly confronted Toljan on the right hand side but Chambers also followed his defensive partner. He drifted away from his marker after being caught ball watching, which forced Holgate to quickly shift across.
The Everton full-back was unable to rescue England and Selke sent a darting header into the far top corner. England should’ve shifted Chalobah across to the left hand side slightly, to prevent Germany from outnumbering them on their right side.
Germany’s weakness was from defending set pieces, whereas England’s strength was attacking from set pieces. This inevitably led to England’s opening goal, when Germany crowded the penalty area, only to leave Gray unmarked at the far post.
Ward-Prowse sent an in swinging corner towards the back post for England defender Calum Chambers. The Arsenal defender had two initial efforts blocked, a header and striker, until the ball trickled onto Demarai Gray to rifle into the roof of the net.
England started the second half in similar fashion to how they began the first period. Hughes weaved his way into the penalty area and fed the ball into Abraham, who converted into an empty net from inside the six yard box.
Eventually, England became fatigued and Germany accumulated passes to work their back into the game. This happened on 70 minutes when substitute Felix Platte glanced his header past Pickford.
Everton full-back Holgate failed to cover the near post and should’ve marked Platte much tighter. This allowed Platte with room to manoeuvre at the near post and guide Arnold’s header into the back of the net.
Germany pressed for a late winner but England sat deep to send the game to extra-time. The Germans continued to attack and cause problems for England in extra time, despite England’s decision to introduce Nathan Redmond.
Tammy Abraham was regularly left stranded up front on his own due to England’s defensive mind set in the latter stages of the second half and extra time. Germany deserved the victory after 120 minutes of open, attacking and intense football.
After scoring their first penalties, Gerhardt and Abraham missed for both teams. On the fifth penalty kick, Germany converted and Nathan Redmond had his spot kick saved by Germany goalkeeper Julian Pollersbeck. Germany will find out who they’ll be facing in the 2017 under 21s European Championships final this evening, when Spain face Italy.