Norwich City’s Jacob Murphy helps England to opening draw against Sweden in European Under-21 Championship
- Credit: PA
Norwich City’s Jacob Murphy played an hour of England’s opening European Under-21 Championship opener against Sweden – but it was new Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford who stole the show in a goalless draw.
Murphy was heavily involved in the early stages and saw an effort from distance clear the crossbar by inches, but with 71 minutes was replaced by Demarai Gray.
Nine minutes from time £30m keeper Pickford kept out Linus Wahlqvist’s spot-kick to help Aidy Boothroyd’s side cling on to a point.
Pickford became the world’s third most expensive keeper when he completed his move to the Toffees from Sunderland on Thursday and was clearly relieved to have his future sorted.
“It’s good. It’s nice to get it (the move) out of the way, and I can concentrate on the Euros and go as far as I can with England,” said the 23-year-old.
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“Like I say, I can relax now, not worrying about anything.
“It’s a great club to go to for myself, to move that next step on my journey. I feel like Everton was the best place for me so it’s a good one for me.”
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Group A also includes hosts Poland and Slovakia and, with only the three pool winners and best runners-up going through, England must improve.
But Pickford was content enough with the outcome in Kielce.
“The main thing was not to lose the game,” he said. “It would’ve been nice to get the three points. Winning the first game’s always nice in tournament football. But we’ve come away with the draw, and it’s down to us to win the next two.”
On his spot-kick heroics from Linus Wahlqvist’s effort 10 minutes from time, he modestly added: “I just waited a bit longer, held my ground, dived to the left and got my top hand to it. It’s what you do.”
Tammy Abraham twice fired over in the first half, while Chilwell’s deflected drive looped on to the bar after the break, but Pawel Cibicki also hit the woodwork for Euro 2015 winners Sweden.
Next up for the U21s is Monday’s game against Slovakia in Kielce and boss Aidy Boothroyd said: “We want to qualify for the semi-finals and in order to do that we have to win games, but it’s also really important we didn’t lose.”