Norwich City winger Jacob Murphy comes off the bench to help England Under-21s win crucial clash with Slovakia
- Credit: PA
Norwich City winger Jacob Murphy came off the bench to help spark England’s faltering European Under-21 Championship campaign back into life in Poland.
Murphy had been dropped to the bench by Aidy Boothroyd, having played 71 minutes of the 0-0 draw with Sweden on Friday, which left the Young Lions in need of a win to keep their semi-final hopes in tact.
An under-whelming first half saw England go into the break 1-0 down against Slovakia in Kielce though, after conceding a Martin Chrien header from a corner in the 23rd minute.
Canaries academy product Murphy was then brought on for Everton’s Mason Holgate at right-back and made an immediate impact. The 22-year-old delivered a whipped cross from the right after a corner had been cleared in the 50th minute and found Swansea defender Alfie Mawson, whose initial close-range shot was saved but the centre-back turned home the rebound.
That equaliser reinvigorated England and former Norwich winger Nathan Redmond fired them ahead 11 minutes later, seizing on a delightful curling pass from his Southampton team-mate James Ward-Prowse before cutting inside from the left wing and drilling a shot into the top-right corner from 20 yards.
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It was a big moment for Redmond, playing in his final U21 tournament having been part of the squads which disappointingly exited at the group stages in 2013 and 2015.
Murphy has initially been replaced in the starting line-up by Reading attacker John Swift for the encounter, with Canaries loanee Angus Gunn continuing to provide cover for Jordan Pickford among the substitutes.
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Murphy persevered in the unfamiliar position of full-back and helped England hold on desperately to their lead. The victory put England top of Group A ahead of the later game between Sweden and hosts Poland. The Youngs Lions complete their group against Poland on Thursday (7.45pm UK time).
England U21s: Pickford; Holgate (Murphy 46), Chambers, Mawson, Chilwell; Ward-Prowse (C), Chalobah; Swift (Gray 79, Baker, Redmond; Abraham (Woodrow 88). Subs: Gunn (GK), Mitchell (GK), Stephens, Targett, Holding, Hause, Iorfa, Hughes, Grealish.