Chopra's strike denies Swedes

Sweden Under-21s 2 England Under-21s 2
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The Independent Online

Michael Chopra scrambled a last-minute goal to ensure that England did not end their under-21 campaign for 2003-04 on a losing note.

Michael Chopra scrambled a last-minute goal to ensure that England did not end their under-21 campaign for 2003-04 on a losing note.

The Newcastle player made no mistake from close range. But even without that tonic the coach, David Platt, would have found encouragement in the performances of David Bentley and Michael Dawson.

Platt is starting to build for the next European Championship campaign and this was highlighted by the fact that his starting line-up had a combined tally of only 20 caps.

England were given a first-half lead by the Crewe striker Dean Ashton. Sweden looked the more threatening in the second period and appeared to have snatched victory thanks to goals from Per Nilsson and Johan Anderson. But Chopra spared Darren Ambrose's blushes after he had shot over from point-blank range in the 89th minute.

Bentley has started to make an impression with Arsenal, appearing in many of their Carling Cup games this season, and he had a swagger about his play, deservedly winning the man-of-the-match award. Dawson, a Nottingham Forest defender, was equally impressive at the back.

SWEDEN UNDER-21: Alvbage, Antonsson, Adam Johansson, Ucar, Per Nilsson, Hysen, Holmen, Lars Nilsson, Pinones-Arce, Jon Jonsson, Stefanidis. Substitutes: Wiland, Martin Andersson, Andreas Johansson, Johan Andersson, Jardler, Djuric, Rosenberg.

ENGLAND UNDER-21: Carson (Leeds); Hoyte (Arsenal), Taylor (Newcastle), Dawson (N Forest), Ridgewell (Aston Villa); Tonge (Sheff Utd), Reo-Coker (West Ham), Downing (Middlesbro); Bentley (Arsenal), Cole (Charlton), Ashton (Crewe) . Substitutes: Grant (gk, Derby) , Kilgallon (Leeds), Jones (Man Utd), Milner (Leeds), Ambrose (Newcastle), Stead (Blackburn), Bent (Ipswich), Chopra (Newcastle).

Referee: M Vuorela (Fin).

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