Capping off what has already been a very successful summer for the England Youth setup with the England Under-20s winning the World Cup in June, the Under-19s added to the accolades Saturday evening by knocking off Portugal in the U-19 European Championship in Gori, Georgia.
In usual fashion, Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon and Tayo Edun got the starting nod, manning the left wing and central midfield, respectively.
The first half played even into the break, deadlocked at zero. However, Easah Suliman, the Aston Villa product, broke the stalemate shortly after the interval, heading in a rebound off the post in the 50th minute. The young Lions’ advantage would be pegged back six minutes later due to a defensive blunder by Dujon Sterling, slicing the ball into the back of his own net. Disappointment would lead to elation in the 68th thanks to a tap-in by Lukas Nmecha, which would prove to be the winning goal.
The run-in wasn’t the easiest for England, with Fulham’s Tayo Edun seeing a second yellow in the 86th, leaving them down to ten men. Fortunately, they were able to weather the storm and protect the lead in order to secure the championship. For Portugal, it was an unprecedented third time losing in the final.
Ryan Sessegnon tied for the golden boot of the tournament, matching teammate Ben Brereton, Joel Piroe (Netherlands), and Viktor Gyokeres (Sweden) with three goals apiece. He seems to be getting more comfortable by the day in the attacking wing role that Slavisa Jokanovic employed him at in the latter stages of last season for Fulham.
As for Edun, it would be of no surprise to see more of him this upcoming season after featuring in all three of Fulham’s EFL Cup matches last season, as well as making the bench for the FA Cup match versus Cardiff and two League matches. Although I don’t foresee him becoming a regular in the 18 just yet, he will most likely be utilized in a larger role in cup play.
Given the demanding summer that both players have experienced, it is expected that they will have some time off now to recover. It will be interesting to see in Sessegnon’s case whether he’ll be able to recover in time for the opening match of the season versus Norwich, which is quickly approaching on August 5th. More than likely he will miss the first game or two of the 2017/2018 campaign.