Belgium Under-21. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
RESERVING their best display yet in the Toulon Under-21 tournament for a day when almost everything conspired against them, England yesterday advanced to their sixth final in 10 years. Their opponents tomorrow will be Portugal, who beat France on penalties in Cannes in the other semi- final after the teams had finished 1-1 at the end of full-time.
England's game was delayed 16 minutes by the late arrival of Dave Sexton's party, whose original coach had broken down near Cassis. Fortunately for them, another coach owned by the same company, which was passing by, was flagged down.
Once the match itself was under way, the game was spoilt throughout by the Mistral wind, which blew cinders from the surrounding running track into the faces of the players, who worked wonders in the farcical circumstances to provide a decent spectacle.
In such conditions, it was a particularly crucial toss to win. Within four minutes of calling correctly, Jamie Redknapp delivered the corner which led to England taking an early lead. Pascal Beeken, the Belgian goalkeeper, could hardly be blamed for misjudging the flight and after Bruce Dyer had had a shot blocked, Sol Campbell drove in his first goal at this level.
With the Belgians playing into the wind in the first half, Beeken had trouble placing the ball for goal-kicks, which were then in danger of swirling back over his head. One intended centre by their captain, Regis Genaux, ended up in the centre circle.
Michael Oakes, who had been tested only once in the first half, was soon to find himself somewhat busier in the second, although as his and England's luck would have it, the elements were far more favourable now. England benefited consequently, going two goals up through Dyer with a neat side- footed volley from Dominic Matteo's cross at the end of an eight-man move.
Adapting better to the conditions than Belgium had, England were threatened only in the last 12 minutes after Bob Peeters had headed in at the far post from Genaux's centre. With Campbell exceptional in the heart of their defence and Redknapp coolness personified amid the raging storm, England deservedly held out.
ENGLAND UNDER-21 (4-4-2): Oakes (Aston Villa); Makin (Oldham), Campbell, Nethercott (both Tottenham), Gordon (Crystal Palace); Sinclair (Queen's Park Rangers), Parlour (Arsenal), Redknapp, Matteo (both Liverpool); Bart-Williams (Sheffield Wednesday), Dyer (Crystal Palace).
BELGIUM UNDER-21 (1-2-5-2): Beeken (RFC Liege); Verjans (St Truiden); Smeets (Standard Liege), Deflandre (RFC Liege); Genaux (Standard Liege), Peiremans (Anderlecht), Huysmans (Lierse), Remy (Charleroi), Vreven (KV Mechelen); Peeters (Lierse), Van Gompel (KV Mechelen). Substitute: Snoeckx (Lierse) for Huysmans, 63.
Referee: U Meier (Switzerland).Reuse content