Full 90 minutes for City star as England U21s held to 3-3 draw in Andorra
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Norwich City right-back Max Aarons played the full 90 minutes and won his eighth England Under-21 cap as the Young Lions were held to a dramatic 3-3 draw in Andorra this afternoon.
Canaries midfielder Oliver Skipp remained an unused substitute, as did Ben Godfrey, following City’s recent club record sale of the defender to Everton for an initial £25million.
Andorra scrambled an injury-time equaliser to end England’s 100 percent record in qualifying for next year’s European U21 Championship in Hungary and Slovenia, but the Young Lions will still win Group Three if they beat Turkey at Molineux on Tuesday.
It was a largely embarrassing first half for England, with Andorra working hard to disrupt them and Aaron Ramdsale forced into a decent stop of a close-range header from Albert Alavedra.
In the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains, on an artificial 3G pitch at the Stadi Nacional, Liverpool midfielder Curtis Jones was booked for diving after charging into the box and England were growing increasingly frustrated.
Then the minnows grabbed the lead they deserved in the 28th minute, with a swift counter thumped past Sheffield United keeper Ramsdale by Ricard Fernandez in the 28th minute, to jubilant celebrations.
Aidy Boothroyd’s team finally found some fluency after the goal and good play on the left from Crystal Palace winger Ebere Eze saw his cross headed just wide by stretching Bournemouth striker Sam Surridge.
Then the equaliser that was desperately needed was found in the 45th minute, with Canaries ace Aarons collecting the loose ball on the right of the box after Surridge flicked on a header from an Eze cross from the left. He squared to Josh DaSilva, who teed up captain Tom Davies – with the Everton midfielder stroking a shot into the top-left corner from the edge of the box.
The visitors didn’t make any changes but upped their game after the break, with Aarons involved in the build-up of a succession of attacks, with Dwight McNeil seeing a powerful low shot well held and Eze firing over the bar after Aarons and Davies had done well on the right.
Brentford midfielder DaSilva found the goal the Young Lions needed in the 69th minute, after fine play from Jones to get to the bye-line on the right and cut a cross back, with the keeper only able to turn the shot against his post before clearing in vain, with the ball adjudged to have crossed the line.
However, seven minutes later and the hosts were level again, with Fernandez scoring his second of the game, bundling over the line after a shot had hit the bar.
England reclaimed the lead in the 82nd minute through substitute Eddie Nketiah though, who exchanged passes with City full-back Aarons on the right before handing over to Davies, and then there was a nice turn from Eze on the edge of the box before slipping Nketiah in, with the Arsenal striker beating the offside trap and the keeper to the ball to poke into the net.
It was an important goal too, equalling the England U21 record of 13 goals shared by Alan Shearer and Francis Jeffers, but the shine was taken off when the spirited Andorrans managed to salvage a draw in injury-time.
Defender Christian Garcia charged forward and managed to lob the on-rushing Ramsdale in the first minute of added time, sparking wild celebrations, with the home keeper running the length of the pitch to join the bundle - followed by roars of delight at full-time.
England U21s (4-3-3): Ramsdale,; Aarons, Rhys Williams, Panzo, Brandon Williams; Da Silva (Bellingham 72), Davies, McNeil (Sessegnon 77); Jones (Hudson-Odoi 74), Surridge (Nketiah 72), Eze. Unused subs: Bursik (GK), Guehi, Godfrey, Justin, Skipp
Booked: Jones, Rhys Williams
Goals: Davies (45), DaSilva (69), Nketiah (82)