Trafford saves stoppage-time penalty as England win Euro U21 title

Trafford saves stoppage-time penalty as England win Euro U21 title

England won the European Under-21 Championship for the first time in nearly 40 years after a dramatic last-minute penalty save by James Trafford ensured the Young Lions held on to beat Spain.

Trafford, who is set to join Burnley from Manchester City in a deal that could be worth up to £19m, kept out Abel Ruiz’s low spot-kick in the 99th minute after a lengthy VAR check.

The 20-year-old then produced another brilliant stop on the follow-up before being mobbed by his team-mates.

The winning goal came with virtually the last kick of the first half when a Cole Palmer free-kick deflected off team-mate Curtis Jones and wrong-footed goalkeeper Arnau Tenas to find the bottom corner.

Spain, who had scored 13 goals in the tournament, had a Ruiz goal ruled out for offside after half-time, before Trafford’s late heroics sealed England’s victory.

The win meant Lee Carsley’s talented side are the third England team to win the competition after previously picking up the trophy in 1982 and 1984.

They are also the first team to record six successive clean sheets in the tournament’s history.

The Young Lions have played an exciting brand of football in Georgia, with a side packed with attacking talent.

England started the final positively, with Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon having the first meaningful chance when his shot was pushed wide by Spain keeper Tenas.


Gordon was then involved again as he looked to tee up Morgan Gibbs-White before an interception from Jon Pacheco prevented the Nottingham Forest player from having a tap in.


Spain soon came into the match, with Alex Baena curling an effort past Trafford’s post before scuffing another effort wide after he had picked up a loose pass by Gibbs-White.

Chelsea defender Levi Colwill headed against the crossbar from an excellent delivery from Palmer, before the Manchester City man gave England the lead when his free-kick was deflected in by Liverpool’s Jones.

The half ended with bad blood as Palmer’s celebration led to a melee between both benches, which resulted in England coach Ashley Cole and Spanish fitness coach Carlos Rivera being sent to the stands.

England were under immense pressure during the second period, and it looked to have paid off for Spain when Ruiz headed in from a Baena cross, only for the offside flag to go up. Ruiz had another chance to equalise, but headed wide from inside the six-yard box.

The match ended in dramatic style when Colwill – so highly rated by England’s staff following his week training with the senior team – was judged to have fouled Ruiz in the box.

Trafford got down well to save the resulting penalty and an immediate follow-up to give England victory and spark scenes of jubilation.

The bad blood continued, however, with nine yellow and four red cards handed out by the final whistle, as Gibbs-White and Antonio Blanco were both sent off in the final throes.

Now that England have won the trophy, the discussions will start about which of these young stars will be knocking on the door of the senior squad and be in with a chance of playing in the senior European Championships next summer.

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