Football: Joachim provides England's inspiration

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The Independent Online
England Under-18. . . . . . .4

Netherlands Under-18. . . . .1

ENGLAND revealed the high quality of the nation's leading young footballers with an impressive performance at Walsall last night in which Leicester City's Julian Joachim thrilled a crowd of 7,561 with two superb individual goals.

Clearly playing under licence to express themselves without inhibition, the England teenagers were emphatically superior to their Dutch counterparts and have maximum points from their opening two group games. They need a draw against Spain, also at Walsall tomorrow, to qualify for Sunday's final in Nottingham.

In contrast to the pattern of their opening game against France on Sunday, when both goals in a 2-0 victory came in the last seven minutes, England quickly and emphatically established their superiority.

They led after 10 minutes when Robert Fowler, of Liverpool, put away his second goal of the tournament. Tottenham's Sol Campbell played a speculative ball forward from defence and, with the Dutch defenders looking for offside, Fowler had time to bring the ball under control and hit a left-foot shot past the goalkeeper.

Joachim had a part in two goals late in the first half. First, he received a through pass from the captain, Darren Caskey, on the edge of the Dutch penalty area, controlled the ball and slotted it home just inside the goalkeeper's left-hand post.

Then Joachim turned provider, setting up Kevin Gallen with a superb crossfield ball to the right edge of the Dutch penalty area. The Queen's Park Rangers player turned neatly inside his marker and found the net with another precise shot.

Mendel Witzenhausen pulled a goal back for the Dutch on the stroke of half-time, striking the ball into the roof of the net from just inside the area after scrambled attempts by the hosts' defence to clear the ball to safety.

Joachim hit the only goal of the second half after 71 minutes, cracking home a splendid volley after an audacious lob over a defender's head.

ENGLAND UNDER-18: Day (Tottenham); G Neville (Manchester United), Sharp (Leeds), Caskey (Tottenham), Casper (Manchester United), Campbell (Tottenham), Tinkler (Leeds), Butt (Manchester United), Joachim (Leicester City), Fowler (Liverpool), Gallen (Queen's Park Rangers). Substitutes: Whelan (Leeds) for Gallen, 74; Bowman (Leeds) for Tinkler, 83.

NETHERLANDS UNDER-18: Zwinkels (ADO Den Haag); Witzenhausen, Van der Haar (both Ajax), Dirkx, Klomp (both PSV Eindhoven), Reuser, Seedorf, Kluivert (all Ajax), van Bronckhorst, Petta (both Feyenoord), Koning (ADO Den Haag). Substitutes: Raven (PSV) for Reuser, 60; Fuchs (PSV) for van Bronckhorst, 70.

Referee: P Ceccarini (Italy).