Spot kick joy!
26th Jun 2009, 17:00
Despite trying their hardest not to do so England will take part in the final of the European U21 championships on Monday after beating Sweden 5-4 on penalties after a 3-3 draw, a game that England were winning 3-0 after 45 minutes!
It was a dream start when Pompey's own Martin Cranie, restored to the side along with so many others who sat out the Germany game, drilled home with his left foot to put England ahead after only 1 minute!
We were looking comfortable then suddenly Gabby Agbonlahor picked up a booking, meaning he will now miss the final, but it was during the absence from the field of a Swedish defender - who had been cut in the challenge that saw the Villa striker booked - that we capitalised as Citeh's Nedum Onouha added a second after 27 minutes.
With half time looming a place in the final was looking all but assured when on 38 minutes Matthias Bjarsmyr sliced the ball into his own net to put England 3-0 up.
Sweden started to pressurise us in the 2nd half and moments after Cranie, who had another good game, had seen a header cleared off the line Marcus Berg gave the host nation hope when the highly rated striker scored on 68 minutes. 3-1 soon became 3-2 minutes later when Ola Toivonen curled home a free kick on 74 minutes, it was very much game on!
A remarkable comeback was complete on 81 minutes when Berg scored his second of the game, and after 90 minutes with the scores level at 3-3 extra time was needed.
During this extra time period Fraser Campbell, who would have filled in for Agbonlahor, picked up a second yellow card and that equalled red so he will now sit out the final, a final that England nearly did not make as only the bar denied Berg a hat-trick...
Penalty shootouts have not been kind to England over the years and when James Milner slipped, tore up the turf and sent the ball horribly high and wide we had shades of David Beckham at Euro 2004 all over again! Luckily Joe Hart saved the Swedes first penalty, taken by Berg.
The next 5 penalty takers, including Hart himself - who also picked up a yellow card in this shootout so he will also miss the final - all scored for England and this left the pressure on Guillermo Molis...when he hit the post England had made it!
See the highlights on sky sports by clicking here...
We will face Germany in the final on Monday, who beat Italy 1-0 in the other semi.
Stuart Pearce was obviously pleased to see his side advance to the final but was not happy with the lack of respect that we showed the Swedes, as he felt this disrespect towards them in the 2nd half allowed them back into the game. He also revealed that he plans to appeal Joe Hart's suspension.
See Pearce's thoughts on this and more on sky sports by clicking here...
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