Gordon seals England U21s Euro semi-final spot

Gordon seals England U21s Euro semi-final spot

Anthony Gordon’s first-half finish sealed England a place in the European Under-21 Championship semi-finals as they defeated Portugal in Georgia.

The Newcastle forward smashed home from inside the area from a Morgan Gibbs-White cutback after good work from Chelsea’s Noni Madueke.

Portugal hit the bar through Henrique Araujo in the second half.

But Lee Carsley’s side, yet to concede a goal in this tournament, held out and will face Israel on Wednesday.

They needed to show defensive resilience to win in Kutaisi, as Portugal had them under pressure for long periods after the break.

Victory secured a place in the final four of the competition for the first time since 2017, and kept alive hopes of lifting a trophy they last won in 1984.

Having already beaten Israel 2-0 in the group stage, England will certainly feel they have a strong chance to reach next Saturday’s final.

Carsley reverted to the team who started England’s opening match of the tournament, a 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic on 22 June.

They could have been in front in the fourth minute, when Curtis Jones shot wide from the edge of the box after Madueke, Gibbs-White and Anthony Gordon had combined to create the opening.

Then Gordon was fed through by Aston Villa midfielder Jacob Ramsey’s pass, but his first-time shot from a tight angle was saved by Celton Biai.

Portugal came close through Wolves forward Pedro Neto, after a cross into the box was not fully cleared by James Garner, but his low shot was saved by James Trafford in the England goal.

Tiago Dantas looked certain to score just before half-time but captain Taylor Harwood-Bellis made a vital block.

Araujo’s header was England’s biggest second-half scare, but despite having plenty of pressure, Portugal could not create a clear enough chance to find a way through.

England, who won all three of their group games in reaching the quarter-finals, have been widely praised for their attacking football.

However, Portugal were a step up in quality, and Carsley’s side spent large periods of the second half without the ball.

“We have to give Portugal a lot of credit,” Carsley said. “They pressed us really well, they were aggressive with their positioning.

“We couldn’t control it. It wasn’t as if we were on battery save mode, Portugal were good. It should give the players great confidence knowing that they can beat potentially the favourites.”

One setback was a second-half ankle injury to Ramsey, seen on crutches after the match and a doubt for Wednesday’s semi-final.

“We’ll assess Jacob tomorrow. We won’t be taking any chances,” Carsley said.

“If there’s a chance of a player with injections, they won’t be doing that. It’s still development football. Jacob’s in good hands. It’s hard to tell. He’s got a lot of numbness in his foot and ankle.”

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