Lingard hails team spirit

Published: Monday 22nd June 2015 by The News Editor

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Winger Jesse Lingard believes England Under-21s have finally shown a glimpse of what they are really about.

Defeat in Thursday’s Group B opener against Portugal left Gareth Southgate’s side facing the prospect of a third straight group-stage exit at the European Championship.

For a long time it looked like the Young Lions would fall short in their must-win encounter against Sweden, only for substitute Lingard to spark wild celebrations with an impressive volley five minutes from time.

It was the Under-21s’ first finals victory in six years and, although the performance lacked fluency, the character shown in the 1-0 win was undeniably impressive.

“They were well organised, pressing the ball for near enough the whole 90 minutes,” Manchester United winger Lingard said.

“It was a last-ditch ball into the box and luckily we got the goal.

“You’ve seen the team spirit and the togetherness of the team (against Sweden).

“We’re a tight-knit squad and everyone from the bench made an impact, everyone who started gave us encouragement when we came on the pitch. So nobody out of the camp really knows what we’re about and it showed today.”

Victory leaves England second in Group B heading into Wednesday’s match with Italy, when another three points will see Southgate’s men progress to the semi-finals.

“It will be a tougher game than we faced today but I think we’ve got it in us to win,” Lingard said.

“We’ve come from a 0-0 to win with a last-ditch goal and we can do it again against Italy.”

Lingard may well find himself starting against the Azzurrini having impressed after coming on in place of the injured Alex Pritchard.

The 22-year-old proved a nuisance after his 55th-minute introduction and hit the decisive strike which was as impressive as it was timely.

“To be fair, at first I was going to go in the box but Nathan Redmond said stay out of the box,” Lingard said.

“I was free on the edge of the box, the ball has come to me and as soon as it came to me I knew to hit it.

“It was just a massive relief for everyone in the camp.

“The team spirit and togetherness of our squad is really good and we are going into the Italy game fully focused.”

Published: Monday 22nd June 2015 by The News Editor

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