Ward-Prowse boosts Young Lions

Published: Monday 30th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Skipper James Ward-Prowse ruined Philipp Hofmann’s 22nd birthday as England Under-21s twice came from behind to beat their counterparts from Germany 3-2.

The Kaiserslautern striker had helped himself to a well-taken double either side of Jesse Lingard’s equaliser and half-time, but ended up on the losing side in a thrilling encounter in front of a crowd of 30,178 at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.

Gareth Southgate’s men snatched victory with a rousing finish as Norwich’s Nathan Redmond levelled 10 minutes from time and then saw Southampton’s Ward-Prowse settle it two minutes later.

Southgate, back at the stadium at which he had played with such distinction before taking over the managerial reins from Steve McClaren, was looking for a stern test ahead of this summer’s European Under-21 Championship finals in the Czech Republic, for which both sides have qualified.

He got just that as the visitors, with Liverpool’s Emre Can and skipper Moritz Leitner orchestrating from the middle of the park, starting confidently and forcing their way in front with just 15 minutes gone.

Full-back Christian Gunter and midfielder Amin Younes combined well down the left – not for the first or last time – and when the ball reached Hofmann in the middle, he controlled and swivelled smartly to fire past helpless keeper Jonathan Bond.

But England improved as the half wore on and after Burnley striker Danny Ings had forced a fine 33rd-minute save form keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Lingard converted Carl Jenkinson’s cross with aplomb to level just seconds later.

However, Germany restored their lead within five minutes of the restart when he slid in to meet half-time substitute Serge Gnabry’s inviting cross and steer it past Bond.

Ings smashed a long-range effort over two minutes later and set up Lingard after running on to Jenkinson’s 63rd-minute pass, but the midfielder could not get a shot away.

Arsenal’s Gnabry was proving a real handful and he tested Bond with a skidding left-foot shot after running on to Can’s intelligent pass 19 minutes from time, but the home side drew level with 10 minutes remaining when substitute Alex Pritchard fed Redmond and his shot flew past the keeper with the help of a slight deflection.

There was better to come for England when Ward-Prowse kept a cool head when presented with a chance to win it from 12 yards and made no mistake, and Ter Stegen pulled off a remarkable double save at the death to deny England victory by a greater margin.

Published: Monday 30th March 2015 by The News Editor

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