Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott lit up Goodison Park as England Under-21s eased past Northern Ireland.

The midfielder’s classy brace inspired the Young Lions to a comfortable 3-0 win on Tuesday.

He now has five goals in Euro 2025 qualifying while Reds team-mate Tyler Morton, on loan at Hull, opened the scoring with his first for the Under-21s.

It leaves them second Group F, three points behind Ukraine who beat Azerbaijan 1-0.

In what looks increasingly likely to be a straight shootout for the group win, the pair play each other in the penultimate game in October, and the Young Lions are in the rare position of playing catch-up.

It is clearly a chase they can achieve and, while boss Lee Carsley will say otherwise, the last game with his youngsters until March was a stroll after they dominated from the off, the gulf in class obvious.

Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite, captain on home turf, was the first to waste a decent opening when he failed to connect with Tino Livramento’s knock-back as England struggled to find an early way past the robust Northern Ireland backline, marshalled by Ruairi McConville and Michael Forbes.

Noni Madueke curled wide after 20 minutes and Jay Stansfield miscued a half-volley from Hayden Hackney’s cross but they were half-chances, rather than the Young Lions slicing through their opponents.

They continued to dominate and press, James Trafford a spectator in goal, and Elliott shot wide but the killer touch continued to elude the hosts – until Northern Ireland finally wilted under the pressure after 31 minutes.

That it came from a misplaced cross mattered little as Madueke’s centre evaded Stansfield but was only cleared to Morton on the edge of the area and the midfielder drilled low into the corner.

From there, an England victory was rarely in doubt. Without Cole Palmer and Rico Lewis, elevated to the senior squad last week, they were perhaps missing a zip centrally but Madueke and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens offered enough on the flanks.

Indeed, Chelsea’s Madueke teed up Hackney to shoot over before Elliott doubled the lead after 50 minutes.

The Liverpool man was clattered by Terry Devlin 25 yards out before exacting perfect revenge by bending a free-kick into the bottom corner.

Madueke was denied by Josh Clarke as England hunted a third and it was Elliott who found it with 10 minutes left. The 20-year-old ran onto Morton’s pass, exposing a gaping hole in the Northern Ireland midfield, and produced a fine chip to lob the onrushing Clarke.

There was still time for Elliott to hunt a hat-trick but he was thwarted by a fine Clarke save.

Lee Carsley backed his England Under-21s to create history after reaching the Euro 2023 final.

Morgan Gibbs-White, Cole Palmer and Cameron Archer eased England past Israel 3-0 and they will face Spain in Georgia on Saturday.

It is the first time since 2009 they have made the European final and have not won the tournament since 1984.

“It’s a great achievement for the players. We spoke about creating our own history,” Carsley told a press conference.

“We’ve done well up till now, but the next thing is the biggest thing. It comes in three days, so recovery will be important now.

“I still think we’ve still got a lot of improving to do. There’s still another level for this team to go. They’ve really grown as a group and they’re getting everything they deserve.

“I’m so, so pleased for them because I’m a big believer that we’ve got so much quality and they just need the opportunity.

“To watch how they’ve developed on and off the pitch has been brilliant. We sometimes take for granted the level of players we’re producing.

“We’ve now mainly got to recover, and for the lads to get a bit of down time, and then look ahead to the final. They’re so motivated to do well, I’m so lucky.

“All the credit goes to the squad, they’re a very determined bunch. They have a lot of pride in possession, but also in the blocks and clearances. But there are still a lot of things we can sharpen up ahead of the next game.”

Gibbs-White missed a 17th-minute penalty after Anthony Gordon was fouled – following a lengthy VAR check – with Emile Smith Rowe having a shot cleared off the line and hitting the post seconds before.

But the Nottingham Forest midfielder headed in from 12 yards with three minutes of the first half left to atone for his error.

Palmer made it 2-0 just after the hour when he converted Smith Rowe’s cross, although the Manchester City player needed to wait for a VAR check.

The midfielder then laid the ball on for Archer to add a third in stoppage time as the Young Lions reached the final without conceding a goal.

England Under-21s boss Lee Carsley hailed the cutting edge shown by his side in the opening minutes of their 2-0 victory over Germany in the European Under-21 Championship.

The Young Lions hit the front after just four minutes when Cameron Archer latched onto a threaded pass from Jacob Ramsey before slotting the ball past Noah Atubolu, and they made it 2-0 with 21 minutes on the clock as Harvey Elliott scored a superb solo effort.

England secured a quarter-final date with Portugal on Sunday by topping the group with three straight 2-0 wins over their group-stage opponents, while holders Germany were sent crashing out.

Carsley told “We were fortunate to take our chances. Germany had some really good chances but didn’t take them. We’re really happy with the result but more importantly the performance.

“We thought it was a really difficult game. We knew preparing for the game that it was going to be a tough one.

“We were lucky enough to play Germany in one of the international windows in a friendly. We knew the quality that they had. Tactically they’re very difficult to break down and you’ve seen that in the game today.”

England have yet to concede a goal in the tournament having kept three straight clean sheets, and Carsley praised the performance of his defensive unit.

He continued: “We talk about the whole team defending, as opposed to just the defence.

“I thought Levi (Colwill) and Taylor (Harwood-Bellis) as well as Jarrad (Branthwaite) and Charlie (Cresswell) have done outstandingly at centre-back, and obviously James (Trafford) in goal.

“As a whole, we’ve defended really well from full-back areas, with midfielders and forwards. It was really pleasing to see, right at the end of the game, players making blocks on the edge of the box and blocking crosses. It’s good to see.”

England Under-21s made it three wins from three and dumped Germany out of the European Under-21 Championship with a 2-0 win in their final group game in Batumi.

Two goals in the opening 21 minutes from Cameron Archer and Harvey Elliott were enough to secure another three points as England topped Group C with maximum points while holders Germany were sent crashing out without a win to their name.

England made an explosive start and hit the front after just four minutes when Jacob Ramsey’s clever through ball found Archer and he calmly tucked the ball past Noah Atubolu to make it 1-0.

The Young Lions nearly doubled their advantage six minutes later when the ball fell to Ramsey inside the area but his low drive went wide of the far post.

Lee Carsley’s side did make it two in the 21st minute thanks to a wonderful solo effort from Elliott. The Liverpool midfielder collected the ball inside his own half, drove at the German defence into the penalty area before coolly slotting home to make it 2-0.

Germany needed to win to have any chance of qualifying and their first chance came on the half-hour mark but Brentford forward Kevin Schade’s shot from inside the area found the hands of James Trafford.

Schade was Germany’s main threat and he had another chance to pull one back just before half-time when he sprinted down the right-hand side but saw his effort tipped away by the keeper.

Germany may have been facing an early exit but they posed little threat in the second half as England continued to probe, with half-chances falling to Cole Palmer after Elliott had forced a great save from Atubolu.

James Garner came close to a third with 15 minutes to go after some neat link-up play but the Everton midfielder could not steer his effort on target from close range.

Germany’s best chance of the game came three minutes from time when Finn Ole Becker’s powerful deflected effort was palmed away by Trafford, who secured another clean sheet alongside three straight 2-0 wins.

England Under-21s reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2023 as Group C winners following a comfortable 2-0 victory against Israel.

Anthony Gordon’s header put them in front in the 15th minute before Emile Smith Rowe doubled the lead in the second half.

Lee Carsley’s side, guaranteed top spot after beating the Czech Republic in their opening match, will meet Germany in the final group game on Wednesday.

After starting brightly, England nearly took the lead after some quick passing around the box was finished by Smith Rowe, but his backheeled effort was ruled out for offside.

They continued to attack with Gordon firing a promising ball into the box and Curtis Jones’ shot was well defended by Gil Cohen.

The dominant start was rewarded with quarter of an hour gone when a brilliant cross from Morgan Gibbs-White on the left found Gordon in the centre of the box and the Newcastle forward nodded the ball into the bottom corner.

England were in charge but Israel sparked into life in the final 10 minutes of the first half.

Dor Turgeman had the first opportunity with his header going wide of the post and Ethane Azoulay had a better chance in stoppage time when his direct free-kick from the edge of the area was saved by James Trafford.

England had an opportunity to double their lead three minutes after the break when Gibbs-White threaded a great ball through to Noni Madueke, but his effort flew wide.

Daniel Peretz made a great punch to clear the danger from Gibbs-White’s curling free-kick before a solid spell of pressure from Israel saw Karm Jaber’s effort go wide.

England eventually earned their second through Smith Rowe in the 68th minute with an excellent finish from the Arsenal forward drilled low into the left corner.

They continued to push and substitute Cameron Archer nearly made it three, but Peretz made a solid save from a tight angle.

A great run from Harvey Elliott down the centre found Cole Palmer on the right, but his shot was easily blocked and cleared by the Israel defence before Yoav Hofmeister made a solid challenge to stop Jacob Ramsey’s attempted shot in the final minutes.

England Under-21 manager Lee Carsley believes the versatility of his players gives him plenty of options to find ways of winning as he looks to secure their place in the knockout stages of the European Championships.

Victory over Israel on Sunday would take England into the quarter-finals, having won their opening game in the tournament for the first time since 2009, when they reached the final.

Carsley’s team selection in beating the Czech Republic saw him pick seven midfielders, with Newcastle winger Anthony Gordon playing as a striker.

The manager thinks that flexibility is advantageous.

“We’ve tried to come up with two or three ways of exploiting the opposition,” he told a press conference.

“We’ll try and find gaps and spaces. It surprises me that there is surprise (at his team selection). The players nowadays are multi-functional.

“I see that we’ve got a lot of players within this squad that can do different roles.

“Part of the squad selection was having that flexibility to play with a different kind of nine (striker).

“I see pretty much any of the forward players, whether they’re wide players or forwards, being able to do that nine.

“You get a different type of nine with Anthony than you would with Cole (Palmer) or Curtis (Jones) or Emile (Smith Rowe). We’ve got plenty of options.

“The way we’ve picked the squad, when we make a change it shouldn’t affect the team too much.”

Manchester City midfielder Tommy Doyle will miss the game against Israel, who drew 1-1 with defending champions Germany, after he sustained a minor knee problem in training while Norwich defender Max Aarons is ill.

England Under-21s head coach Lee Carsley praised the spirit of his squad after goals from Jacob Ramsey and Emile Smith Rowe secured a 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic in their Euro 2023 opener.

Chelsea forward Noni Madueke had signalled England’s intent early on when his effort came back off the crossbar.

Although the Czech Republic also had chances, with Vasil Kusej spurning the best of them when clear through on goal, the Young Lions maintained their composure to make the breakthrough at the start of the second half through Aston Villa midfielder Ramsey.


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After Anthony Gordon saw a goal ruled out with 20 minutes left for Morgan Gibbs-White blocking a free-kick in the build-up, England continued on the front foot and were eventually rewarded during stoppage time when substitute Smith Rowe slotted home following a counter-attack.

England reached the semi-finals of the tournament in 2017, but failed to make it out of the group stage in both 2019 and 2021.

With holders Germany and Israel having played out a 1-1 draw in Kutaisi, Carsley’s side now find themselves in the driving seat for qualification from Group C.

“I am really pleased to get the result,” Carsley said on

“The preparation has gone really well, but I didn’t want to jinx us before the game by saying that.

“There is a brilliant spirit within the lads. We feel like we’re in a good place.”

Carsley’s side next face Israel on Sunday before tackling Germany in Batumi on June 28.

Arsenal midfielder Smith Rowe said: “We wanted to make a statement in the first game.

“We knew the Czechs would be really strong, so we are really happy with the three points.”

The Czech Republic will now regroup for their second game against Germany.

“A match like this has to be the best motivation for the future despite our loss,” coach Jan Suchoparek said.

“It is not the end of the tournament for us and I am sure we will fight in the next two matches even more.”

England Under-21s got their Euro 2023 finals campaign off to the perfect start with a 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in Georgia.

Aston Villa midfielder Jacob Ramsey broke the deadlock at the start of the second half, with substitute Emile Smith Rowe adding another in stoppage time to seal victory.

There was a lively start to the Group C opener at the Batumi Arena, with Chelsea forward Noni Madueke seeing his early effort from the edge of the penalty area clip the crossbar, while at the other end Manchester City goalkeeper James Trafford saved from Vasil Kusej.

England, who beat the Czech Republic home and away in qualifying as they topped their group, remained on the front foot, with Newcastle forward Anthony Gordon close to converting a cross from Morgan Gibbs-White.

A defensive mix-up when trying to play out from the back against a high press saw Vaclav Sejk gifted a chance on the right of the England area, but his angled shot flew into the side-netting.

There was another major let-off for England in the 18th minute when Kusej was sent racing clear down the right and he charged into the area, only to fire wide as Trafford came out.

England created another opening in the 25th minute when Gordon clipped the ball across the six-yard box and Ramsey’s header dropped on to his boot and wide at the far post.

Madueke continued to carry a threat and he cut in from the right to curl a shot just wide as England again came close to breaking the deadlock.

The Czechs, though, should have taken the lead five minutes before half-time.

Sejk surged forward down the left, holding off England captain Taylor Harwood-Bellis before cutting back inside the area and clipping a low drive towards the far corner, which Trafford tipped wide at full stretch.

Instead England took the lead two minutes into the second half when Gordon combined with Ramsey on the edge of the area and the Villa midfielder carried the ball on before coolly slotting into the far corner.

The Czechs immediately went on the offensive as Pavel Sulc got clear of Harwood-Bellis, but Trafford was out quickly to smother the danger.

England, who face reigning champions Germany and Israel next week, had the ball in the net again with 20 minutes left, but the goal was disallowed.

After Gibbs-White blocked a quick free-kick, the ball bounced out to Madueke on the right and his low cross was swept in by Gordon.

England’s celebrations were cut short as the referee ruled the goal out and showed Gibbs-White a yellow card for not having retreated 10 yards at the free-kick.

After the let-off, the Czechs pressed for an equaliser and substitute Krystof Danek headed over from Adam Karabec’s floated free-kick.

However, Smith Rowe made sure of victory in stoppage time when he slotted in a pass from fellow substitute Cameron Archer after a break down the left.

Ben Johnson believes Ashley Cole’s influence can be key in England Under-21s’ bid to end their 39-year trophy drought.

The Young Lions host the Czech Republic in their Euro 2023 opener in Georgia on Thursday.

Cole – England’s most capped full-back with 107 appearances – has been part of Lee Carsley’s backroom staff since the boss was appointed in 2021.

He made his Premier League debut for Arsenal in May 2000 – when full-back Johnson was only four months old – and the West Ham youngster knows Cole’s input is crucial.

He said: “Ash is a top guy and a top coach. I think there could be a perception of him being here because of what he’s done for the seniors but his coaching is top drawer.

“He is a real encouragement to the lads. We respect him anyway but we respect even more for what he’s done in his career. So to be coached by him and learning tips off one of the best full-backs ever is such a big plus for me.

“It’s really surreal, just having banter and just speaking to him as if he’s just a normal guy.

“I remember him a lot at Chelsea and that was probably when he was at the peak of the game.

“To have him in this environment, to learn off and to speak so openly to is something that will go a long way and something I’ll take on for the rest of my career.”

The closest England have got to winning the tournament for the first time since 1984 was in 2009 when they lost to Germany in the final.

A semi-final place in 2017 is their most recent brush with glory and since then they have crashed out of the group stages in 2019 and 2021.

They also face reigning champions Germany and Israel next week in Georgia but Johnson believes Carsley’s men can justify any favourites tag.

He said: “I’ve been in a few teams and people have always said we’re favourites. We know how tough it is going to be but just looking around the changing room, seeing how many players we’ve got with Premier League experience and ability is just so encouraging.

“So, for us, it’s about focusing on us within the group. The staff are helping us to get right for one game at a time and we’ll see how far we can go.”

Rico Lewis is a surprise omission from the England Under-21s squad for their Euro 2023 campaign this summer.

Lee Carsley’s Young Lions head to Romania and Georgia hoping for a first European Championship success since 1984, but they will be without the young City star after he was not included in the 23-man squad.

Lewis, just 18, played 23 times for City during their treble-winning season.

Folarin Balogun is a notable absentee following his recent decision to represent the United States.

Head coach Carsley had been hopeful that Balogun would decide on his future after this summer’s tournament, but the 21-year-old informed the Football Association of his choice to play for the US last month.

His absence means Cameron Archer is the only out-and-out striker in the squad, with Rhian Brewster injured.

Tottenham right-back Djed Spence, City forward James McAtee, who is injured, and Club Brugge goalkeeper Joe Bursik also missed out.

But there is a plethora of Premier League experience in there, with the likes of Morgan Gibbs-White, Emile Smith Rowe, Oliver Skipp, Anthony Gordon, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott among the 23-man squad gunning for glory.

England begin their campaign against the Czech Republic in Georgia on June 22.

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