Conor Gallagher started and scored for England Under-19s as the young Lions came from behind to open the elite round of qualification for this summer’s European Championship finals with a confident victory, while Juan Castillo and Ian Maatsen were also on the scoresheet in wins for the Netherlands.
Keith Downing’s England youngsters beat both Moldova and Iceland in November’s initial qualifying round as they look to book a place at the final tournament in Armenia in July. Czech Republic were the visitors to St George’s Park this afternoon and managed to take an early lead through Jakub Selnar, though parity was restored within seconds courtesy of Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka.
Gallagher’s goal arrived early in the second half to make it 2-1 as the 19-year-old took aim from the edge of the penalty area and beat the goalkeeper with the help of a slight deflection from Marc Guehi, his club teammate.
It marked a confident performance from the midfielder in the centre of the field alongside Wolves youngster Morgan Gibbs-White. Guehi lined up at the back alongside former Chelsea Academy defender Jonathan Panzo. Further goals from Saka and Danny Loader rounded off the victory and takes England top of the early group standings.
Elsewhere in Under-19 qualification, Billy Gilmour played the full game as Scotland beat Turkey 3-1. The midfielder’s influence shone throughout the contest as his free-kick was turned in by Robbie Deas to make it 2-0 before the 17-year-old’s strike hit the woodwork in the build-up to the third goal late on. With only the group winners advancing to the final, the win places the Scots in a good position prior to upcoming games against Portugal and Turkey.
Castillo and Daishawn Redan lined up in attack for Netherlands Under-19s as they left it late to claim all three points against Wales, the former opening the scoring after 26 minutes. It looked like the Welsh had snatched a draw when Southampton midfielder Christian Norton fired in a stoppage-time equaliser but an even later strike earned Holland the points in a group also featuring Spain and Slovenia.
In qualification for the Under-17 European Championship, Maatsen scored on the stroke of half-time as the Dutch defending champions thrashed 10-man Northern Ireland, who included Sam McClelland in their defence. The Irish had a man sent off inside 20 minutes, intensifying their uphill battle against the side who won the tournament last summer, beating England in the semi-finals.
Thierno Ballo played 70 minutes as Austria thumped Romania 5-1. The teenage midfielder created the third goal for the Austrians late in the first half as they went top of Group 1 after the first round of fixtures before games against Turkey and Italy over the coming week.