Gianluigi Donnarumma, Marco Asensio, Renato Sanches: Five players to watch at European Under-21 Championship

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The 2017 European Under-21 Championship kicks off in Poland on Friday, when England face holders Sweden in Kielce.

The Young Lions are aiming to qualify from the group stage for the first time since 2009, but some of the world’s best young players will be aiming to deny them glory in Poland.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five players to watch.

MARCO ASENSIO (Spain)

The Real Madrid attacker won best player as Spain triumphed at the under-19 championship in 2015 and has enjoyed a breakthrough year at the Bernabeu. He scored a wonderful solo goal on his Madrid debut in their 3-2 Super Cup win over Sevilla in August and backed it up with another on his LaLiga bow.

The 21-year-old netted 10 goals in 38 games for Madrid to help them win the title and scored in their 4-1 Champions League final win over Juventus. He joined Madrid from Real Mallorca, having made his debut as a 17-year-old in 2014. He has three senior caps for Spain.

DOMENICO BERARDI (Italy)

The 22-year-old winger missed most of the first half of the season with a knee injury – delaying his full international debut. The senior cap will come for a player who has already scored 41 professional goals, made 100 starts and helped Sassuolo finish 12th in the 2016/17 campaign.

Berardi, who pulled out of a senior squad injured in October 2015, was previously co-owned by Juventus and is a reported Chelsea target, and a strong Euro 2017 will only enhance his reputation. With Sassuolo finishing in the bottom half of Serie A, it seems a matter of time before Berardi leaves the Mapei Stadium.

PATRIK SCHICK (Czech Republic)

The Sampdoria striker was the top scorer in qualifying with 10 goals in nine games as the Czech Republic topped Group One. His form for the under-21 side also earned a call-up to Karel Jarolim’s senior team and he has three caps, scoring once.

The 21-year-old, who has an effective left foot, joined Sampdoria from Sparta Prague last summer and linked up with the under-21s after the seniors’ World Cup qualifier against Norway on Saturday. He scored against Juventus on his first start for the club and finished the season with 13 goals – including 11 in Serie A.

RENATO SANCHES (Portugal)

The midfielder won Euro 2016 last summer but has dropped down to the under-21 squad after a tough first season at Bayern Munich. He was named young player of the tournament in France last year but started just six Bundesliga games for Bayern last term, sitting behind Xabi Alonso, Thiago Alcantara and Arturo Vidal in the pecking order.

This year’s championship is the 19-year-old’s chance to reinvigorate himself in a national set-up he has flourished in and show the form which convinced Bayern he was worth the initial £30million they paid Benfica last summer. All eyes will be on Sanches to see if he can recapture last summer’s form and complete a European double.

GIANLUIGI DONNARUMMA (Italy)

Another pick from Italy but it is hard to ignore the the 18-year-old who has already established himself at AC Milan, making a staggering 71 appearances since his debut as a 16-year-old. He became the youngest goalkeeper to ever play for Italy when he made his international bow at 17 years and 189 days against France in September and he now has three senior caps.

Donnarumma is widely expected to be Gianluigi Buffon’s long-term replacement for Italy and has earned praise from World Cup-winning goalkeeper Dino Zoff. He has also reportedly delayed his college exams to play in Poland.

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England 1-0 Venezuela: Dominic Calvert-Lewin fires U20s to World Cup glory

Sport360 staff 11/06/2017

Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Freddie Woodman grabbed the headlines in a team of heroes as England won the Under-20 World Cup by beating Venezuela in South Korea.

Paul Simpson’s Young Lions were the first England side to reach a world showpiece for over half a century and they followed in the footsteps of Sir Alf Ramsey’s team, who lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1966.

Everton’s Calvert-Lewin scored the game’s only goal after 35 minutes while a second-half penalty save from Newcastle goalkeeper Woodman preserved England’s 1-0 lead and ensured they became world champions.

Check out our gallery above for all the best images from the historic win.


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Kane proud of team's resolve in draw against Scotland

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England captain Harry Kane was proud of the way England dug deep to avoid a chastening defeat to Scotland.

The 114th meeting of international football’s oldest rivals initially looked to be going the visitors’ way after substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hushed the Hampden roar.

But an unremarkable World Cup qualifier ended extraordinarily as Leigh Griffiths levelled with a wonderful late free-kick, before repeating the trick to put Gordon Strachan’s side on the brink of a famous victory.

Yet England rallied rather than wilted in stoppage time as Kane, wearing the captain’s armband for the first time, met a superb Raheem Sterling cross with an even better finish to snatch a 2-2 draw.

“It was fantastic,” Kane said of the team’s character, which was praised by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.

“I think going 2-1 down in the manner that we did, a lot of heads could have dropped or people could have been sulking or so forth.

“But everyone stood up to it. They dug deep and found a goal out of nothing, really, so that’s what it’s about.
“It is about standing up and being counted and we did that today.

“Obviously I was wearing the armband today but I think we’ve got a lot of leaders in the team. It was great for me personally to lead the team out, a very, very proud moment and to get that goal at the end made it even more special.

“I think being part of a leader is standing up when it matters and to get that goal at the end was important.”
Kane’s strike saved England from their first qualifying defeat since October 2009.

Harry Kane

Harry Kane

The draw means England’s cushion at the top of Group F has been narrowed to two points, but there remains confidence within the group that it is a matter of when rather than if they qualify for the World Cup.

“Scotland scoring two goals late on and you look at four minutes left, so to get anything from the game is always a point gained,” Kane added, before attention turns to Tuesday’s season-ending friendly in France.

“We come away fairly happy with it and in a good position to qualify for the World Cup. I don’t think it was tougher than what we expected because we always expect to have tough games, especially against your rivals.

“We knew it was going to be tough away from home, international qualifier, Scotland are doing everything to stay in the World Cup.

“We knew it was going to be tough and credit to them for standing there and getting the two goals, but it was nice to obviously not lose the game.”

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