Morgan Gibbs-White, Cole Palmer and substitute Cameron Archer were on target in Batumi as England demolished a determined Israeli side to reach the UEFA European Under-21 European Championship final.
13′: Smith Rowe has a shot blocked on the line and another saved before penalties are awarded
17′: Gibbs-White puts the spot-kick wide of Tzarfati’s left post
42′: Gibbs-White lead England up front
63′: Palmer fixes the Young Lions’ second
85′: Khalaili forces Trafford into a save with a header from close range
90′: Replaced the Archer smasher in England’s third
Match in brief: England’s pressure pays off in Batumi
Israel contained England skillfully until the 13th minute, when a defensive slip opened up Guy Luzon’s side. Gil Cohen cleared an Emile Smith Rowe effort off the line and stand-in keeper Tomer Tzarfati pushed another onto the post before a penalty was awarded for Karm Jaber’s foul on Anthony Gordon. Gibbs-White stepped up to take it but pushed his low effort wide.
After riding the luck, Israel went back into containment mode but had a threat on the break, Omri Gandelman firing wide with perhaps their best opening of the first 45 minutes. They didn’t go to the break with a clean sheet though, Gibbs-White running in from midfield to loop Palmer’s ball from the right over Tzarfati and under the crossbar.
England continued to press after the break and Palmer doubled their lead on 63 minutes, sending Smith Rowe’s ball at the far post after a sudden burst of quick passing broke Israel’s concentration.
Luzon’s team had no choice but to commit more men forward in the last 20 minutes. Substitute Anan Khalaili forced James Trafford into the game’s first serious save with a header after 84 minutes and Roy Revivo later had an effort blocked, but Lee Carsley’s side capitalized on the break and substitute Archer smashed in their late third.
Player of the match: Curtis Jones (England)
“Leader on the pitch, excellent positionally, reads the game well and has brilliant distribution in attack.”
UEFA Technical Observer Panel
Ian Holyman, match reporter
England were – again – simply too good for Israel. Some of the interplay between the midfield and forwards was lovely and Gordon and Gomes in particular were excellent. Gibbs-White also showed his character as he shrugged off the early penalty setback to head a superb opening goal. Together, Carsley’s men also kept a lid on Israel’s counter-attacking threat and showed resilience in the closing stages as their opponents surged forward. Luzon’s side could have done more from set-pieces – especially in the first half – but they go home having clinched their nation’s first-ever U21 EURO semi-final spot and a berth in the 2024 Olympic football tournament.
Curtis Jones, English midfielder and Player of the Match: “Israel is a good team. They pressured us in the first game. In this one they sat back and made it difficult for us. But we came through and that’s what a good team does. The stats speak for themselves: we “score goals and don’t concede, don’t give chances away. We are well organized. The final will be good – of course it will be tough, but we are ready.”
Morgan Gibbs-White, England striker: “I’m pretty speechless right now. We all believed we could do it. We’ve worked so hard with the same team for the last two years and our only goal was to reach this final. We’re back on the training ground tomorrow and work harder than ever.”
Lee Carsley, England coach: “I enjoyed the process of analyzing Israel, they are a good team, a tough team. They have a lot of spirit and I am glad we had the chance to play them. All credit goes to the squad; they are a very determined bunch. But there are still a lot of things we can sharpen up before the next game.”
Gil Cohen, Israel’s captain: “We are very disappointed with the result. In the first half hour we could have scored. We had to chase the game after going behind and England are a very good team. It didn’t end well.”
- England have reached the U21 EURO final for the fourth time; their last finals appearance was in 2009, where they lost 4–0 to Germany. They won the competition in 1982 and 1984 (beating Spain 3-0 on aggregate).
- England are the second team to reach an U21 EURO decider, winning every final game and not closing, after Spain in 2013 (they went on to beat Italy 4-2 in the final).
- England have won 14 of their last 16 U21 EURO qualifying and final tournament matches (D1 L1).
- Lee Carsley’s side also beat Israel 2-0 in the group stage.
- Israel conceded three penalties in this final round, but none resulted in goals; Daniel Peretz (suspended for this match) made two saves against Germany and Gibbs-White missed the target for England.
Israel: Tzarfati; Jaber, Lemkin, Cohen, Revivo; Gloukh, Gandelman (Ferede 89), Hagag (Khalaili 56), Azoulay (Bilevi 75); Turgeman (Abu Rumi 89), Layous (Gorno 56)
England: Trafford; Garner, Harwood-Bellis, Colwill, Thomas; Gomes (Skipp 78), Jones (Doyle 88); Palmer, Gibbs-White (Madueke 78), Smith Rowe (Elliott 74); Gordon (Archer 74)
U-21 EURO final
England meet Spain in the final, also in the Batumi Arena, on Sunday at 18:00 CET (20:00 local time).