England Under-21s fall to late defeat against Ukraine

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Pa Sport Staff
Monday 16 October 2023 20:30 BST
England’s Noni Madueke (Joe Giddens/PA)
England’s Noni Madueke (Joe Giddens/PA)

England Under-21s suffered a 3-2 stoppage-time defeat against Ukraine in their Euro 2025 qualifier in Slovakia where they had recovered from 2-0 down.

Lee Carsley’s side had coasted to a 9-1 win over Serbia at the City Ground last week to sit top of Group F.

Ukraine, though, had also picked up maximum points from their opening two qualifiers and proved a much sterner test for the Young Lions, who trailed 2-0 at half-time before Noni Madueke and Charlie Cresswell looked to have salvaged a draw – only for Ilya Kvasnytsya to strike a late winner.

England, captained by Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott with Chelsea winger Cole Palmer out injured, created their first clear opening in the 24th minute.

A neat exchange saw Jamie Bynoe-Gittens played into the left side of the penalty area and his cutback was stabbed across goal by James McAtee.

It proved a costly miss as Ukraine took the lead just after the half hour.

England were caught in possession trying to play out from the back and Ukraine swiftly pressed forwards. A ball across from the right dropped through to Nazar Voloshyn at the far post, and he slotted past James Trafford.

With half-time approaching, England found space again on the edge of the Ukraine area as Madueke made a smart turn, but the Chelsea forward dragged a low shot wide.

Ukraine then doubled their lead with a magnificent free-kick from Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Oleg Ocheretko.

Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite was penalised for what looked like minimal contact on Maksim Bragaru out on the right. There did not seem to be the angle for a direct shot – but Ocheretko blasted the ball over Trafford and into the far corner.

Following a low-key start to the second half, Carsley looked to inject some fresh life into his side with a triple substitution ahead of the hour mark as Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Liam Delap and Juventus forward Samuel Iling-Junior all came on.

England, facing just a third qualifying defeat in 12 years, reduced the deficit in the 67th minute.

Hull forward Delap was hustled off the ball at the edge of the Ukraine area, but it fell to Madueke who dispatched a neat finish back into the far corner.

Iling-Junior then saw his cross fly through the six-yard box before being touched behind for a corner.

England found an equaliser with just a minute left when Leeds defender Cresswell headed in at the far post after a deep cross from Elliott dropped through the Ukraine penalty area.

Ukraine, though, snatched victory in stoppage time when substitute Kvasnytsya swept a low shot into the far corner following a quick break – before Delap saw his goal-bound header saved by Ruslan Neshcheret in what was the last action of the game.

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