England Under 21’s came from behind twice to salvage a late 3-2 win over Germany Under 21’s in a friendly at the Riverside Stadium.
Gareth Southgate‘s men fell behind in either half with a brace from Phillip Hoffman but goals from Jesse Lingaard, Nathan Redmond and the winner from captain James Ward-Prowse earned England a hard fought win.
England’s late rally extends an excellent run of form going into the Under 21’s European Championship in the Czech Republic with plenty of optimism surrounding Southgate’s side.
They won their qualifying group in convincing style after nine wins and one draw from 10 games makes them one of the early favourites to win the competition.
A crowd of over 30,000 saw the action at the Riverside which also saw a proud moment for Boro local boy Ben Gibson who started for England in front of his beloved Boro fans.
It was a very cagey start to the game with Germany posing the biggest threat with some intricate passing in the final third. In typical English fashion, Southgate’s men were keeping the ball but provided no real danger.
And it didn’t take long for the German’s to mark their stamp after Phillip Hoffman (14′) killed a cross dead a lashed home into the bottom corner, leaving keeper Jonathan Bond rooted and the Riverside stunned.
England eventually responded seven minutes later with the first chance of the game when Redmond’s curling cross found Lingaard at the back post but he was denied by Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Burnley striker Danny Ings was England’s high profile player and he showed his worth cutting inside from the right and driving low only to be denied by ter Stegen on 33 minutes.
From the resulting corner, Gibson could of made his night extra special with a goal and probably should of. But his header produced another great save from Barca’s deputy.
England made the breakthrough before half time when Carl Jenkinson’s positive run and cut back found Lingaard (34′) inside the box and he comfortably stroked home to equalise.
Shortly before the half time whistle, Liverpool’s Emre Can tested the finger tips of Bond with a curling free kick but the Watford goalkeeper dealt with the effort well.
Into the second half and Germany replied instantly with some fantastic build up play that cut right through the heart of the England defence that even the national team would of been proud of.
Julian Korb’s chipped cross found Hoffman (50′) at the back post and he prodded home to hand the initiative back to the Germans.
After their goal, Germany were having a lot more possession of the ball and England were struggling to reintroduce themselves back into the game.
Arsenal’s Serge Gnabry came at half time and was causing a few problems in the final third, as he beat John Stones and drove low towards goal but was denied by Bond.
Redmond provided England’s first major threat in the second half on 75 minutes when his 25 yard strike was dealt with once again by ter Stegen. This kick started a bit of momentum as the Riverside crowd got behind the Under 21’s.
Substitute Alex Pritchard cut inside from the left and opened up some space for Redmond, he took his time and struck a deflected shot (80′) that nestled into the bottom corner.
The Germans were then stunned when Jenkinson got his second assist of the game, releasing Ward-Prowse (82′) as he calmly stuck home to give England the lead for the first time in the game.
England controlled the remainder of the game in rainy conditions and should of made it four when Ings latched onto Pritchard’s saved effort but he tamely shot straight at ter Stegen.
The final whistle blew to rapturous celebrations from the Riverside as the result marked a big statement from Gareth Southgate’s men going into the European Championships this summer.
Team Line Ups
England Under 21’s (4-2-3-1): Bond (GK); Jenkinson, Stones, Gibson (Keane 75′), Garbutt; Foster-Caskey (Chambers 86′), Ward-Prowse (C); Lingaard, Hughes (Pritchard 66′), Redmond; Ings
Germany Under 21’s (4-5-1): ter Stegen (GK); Korb, Ginter, Knoche, Gunter; Lietner (Kimmich 45′), Can, Bittencourt (Gnabry 45′), Meyer (Schulz 69′), Younes (Malli 79′); Hoffman
England Under 21’s 3-2 Germany Under 21’s
Possession: England Under 21’s 47% – 53% Germany Under 21’s
Shots (on target): England Under 21’s 15 (10) – 8 (5) Germany Under 21’s
Corners: England Under 21’s 5 – 2 Germany Under 21’s
Fouls: England Under 21’s 15 – 13 Germany Under 21’s