In a match that was certainly tightly-contested despite being a mere friendly, Antonio Di Salvo's Germany U21 squad fell to Lee Carley's England U21s Tuesday at Sheffield's Bramall Lane.
|Sheffield's Bramall Lane||Bill Boaden CC-BY-SA 2.0|
Germany U21 Bundestrainer Di Salvo made seven changes to the XI that lost to France on Friday. In addition to the promised starts for Felix Nmecha, Noah Katterbach, and Marton Dardai, Kilian Fischer, Yannick Keitel, Lazar Samardzic, and the highly touted Reda Khadra were given run-outs. Di Salvo's Juniors lined up in a 4-3-3 with Khadra and Samardzic flanking center-forward Jan Thielmann on the top axis.
The German guests took the initiate after surviving some early English attacks in the opening two minutes. Nmecha fired off the first warning shot over English keeper James Trafford's crossbar in the 11th. Thielmann also sent an effort wide of the post four minutes later following some nice combo work involving Khadra and Hoffenheim's Angelo Stiller. Nmecha would see another shot at goal after another solid German attack deflected wide in the 27th.
Di Salvo's youths were finally rewarded for their hard work in the 35th. Khadra actually ended up losing a ball on the German left, but Katterbach was able to step forward and send in a quality cross for Nmecha. The younger brother of German national team striker Lukas energetically rushed up to meet the service and cooly finished with his head.
It nevertheless wouldn't be long before the hosts were able to equalize. Jacob Ramsey and Anthony Gordan worked a ball back to lead-striker Falorin Balogun in the box in the 42nd. The former American youth international furnished an exquisite finish off the turn that left German keeper Noah Atubolu without a chance.
Clearly motivated to take the lead back after England snatched a goal on their first real chance, Di Salvo's lads pressed hard in search of another goal before the break. None would be forthcoming and the fixture adjourned with the scoreline level at 1-1. Play had barely resumed when the hosts then nabbed a 2-1 lead in the 47th.
Gordon left Fischer standing with an elegant dribble in the box after Ramsey's shot was blocked. The Everton attacker then set up Connor Gallagher perfectly at the far post. Gallagher had an easy tap in. German net minder Atubolu prevented matters from getting worse with a pair of stellar saves over the next ten minutes.
The match being an exhibition meant that the two coaches were essentially free to flood the pitch with substitutes. This is precisely what transpired from the hour-mark onwards. Khadra did make a few promising runs and the subbed-on Eric Martel headed a Stiller free-kick over in the 73rd. Faride Alidou saw a decent effort deflected over some six minutes later.
Man City prospect Cole Palmer added the third goal deep into injury time.