Football: Caskey spurs England to glory: Young Turks are routed as Powell's talented team become European champions: Jon Culley reports from the City Ground

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The Independent Online
England Under-18. . . 1

Turkey Under-18. . . .0

DARREN CASKEY, the captain and oldest member of the side by one month, needed the coolest of heads to secure a welcome success for England yesterday, settling a tense European Under-18 Championship final with a penalty kick 13 minutes from time.

Responsibility fell to the Tottenham midfield player after Julian Joachim, England's most dangerous attacker, was pulled down as he tried to go past the Turkish sweeper, Serkan Recber. Expectancy weighed heavily on Caskey's shoulders in front of more than 23,000 spectators at Nottingham Forest's ground, but he had the nerve to dummy the goalkeeper before side-footing home. Thus England won this title for the ninth time, the first since 1980.

The match had fallen short of expectations after England's exciting performances in their group games against the Netherlands and Spain, when they had overwhelmed their opponents with the pace and technical quality of their attacking play.

Although the size of the crowd was not new to Joachim, a regular in Leicester City's side, nor to the Leeds and Manchester United players who had drawn 30,000 to each leg of their FA Youth Cup final last season, the occasion was outside their experience. Two delays to the kick-off as late-arriving fans were allowed to reach their seats cannot have helped.

After four games in eight days fatigue may have been a factor too. Whatever the reasons, the England boys could not bring much fluidity to their early play. A quick goal would have done wonders for taut muscles but a good chance went begging when Robbie Fowler made space for himself in a 17th-minute breakaway only for Kevin Gallen's pass to let him down.

Thereafter the early ball that manager Ted Powell had England delivering with such telling effect against the Dutch and Spanish was too often off-target.

The Turks began to control the midfield, moving the ball around neatly, and had they been more penetrative around the penalty area they could have made England suffer much more than they did. Credit must attach itself to the English defence, however, for limiting the holders' chances, in particular to Caskey's Tottenham team-mate, Sol Campbell, a commanding figure in the back four.

The second half brought a shift in the balance. In the first 15 minutes after the break England carved as many clear openings as they had in the whole first period, mainly because the accuracy of their distribution improved markedly. Fowler found few opportunities to add to his five goals in the tournament but Joachim had already had three attempts saved before Recber made his illegal intervention.

ENGLAND UNDER-18: Day (Tottenham Hotspur); Neville (Manchester United), Sharp (Leeds), Caskey (Tottenham), Casper (Manchester United), Campbell (Tottenham), Tinkler (Leeds), Joachim (Leicester), Scholes (Manchester United), Fowler (Liverpool), Gallen (QPR). Substitutes: Whelan (Leeds) for Gallen, 71m.

TURKEY UNDER-18: Turksoy (MKE Ankaragucu); Arslan (Kocaelispor), Yigit (Gaziantep), Turan (Balikesirspor), Altunta (PTT), Derelioglu (Besiktas), Kocabey (Galatarasay), Tras (Trabzonspor), Ozer (Gaziantepspor), Recber (Zeytinburnuspor), Can (Trb Yildizlispor). Substitutes: Sazlog (Tennis Borussia) for Kocabey, 71; Alkan (Karagumruk) for Altunta, 84.

Referee: R Olsen (Norway).