Sheyi Ojo’s Euro U19 dream ends as England crash out to Italy in semi-finals

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The England U19s fell to a 2-1 defeat to Italy on Thursday, with Liverpool winger Sheyi Ojo featuring in the second half.

After cruising through the group stage with victories over France, the Netherlands and Croatia, Aidy Boothroyd’s England took on Italy at the Carl-Benz-Stadion in Mannheim, Germany.

Contesting their semi-final clash in a lunchtime kickoff, the Young Lions once again lined up as a much-changed outfit.

Ojo was one of the players to drop back to the substitutes’ bench following Monday’s 2-1 win over Croatia, with Boothroyd clearly wary of overworking his talented youth stars.

After a balanced start for both sides, England fell behind to a Federico Dimarco penalty in the 27th minute, with the Inter Milan defender converting after Fikayo Tomori fouled Andrea Favilli.

England continued to create chances throughout the half, having six shots on goal compared to Italy’s two, but they were unable to make it count.

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham could have equalised after the break, but he scooped Jonjoe Kenny’s cross over the bar from close range, leaving Boothroyd and his backroom staff frustrated.

EXETER, ENGLAND - Friday, January 8, 2016: Liverpool's Sheyi Ojo in action against Exeter City during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at St. James Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Boothroyd made his first roll of the dice on 58 minutes, bringing Ojo on in place of Abraham, but Dimarco made England pay shortly after, with the left-back curling an excellent free-kick beyond Freddie Woodman to give Italy a two-goal lead.

Ojo quickly impressed, however, with his accurate set-pieces and direct attacking play providing England with a much-needed thrust in the final third.

It was one of Ojo’s corners that forced Italy’s own goal on 85 minutes, with a sliced clearance rebounding back into the Azzuri net off the shoulder of Alberto Picchi.

But it was too little, too late for the Young Lions, who will now head home from the tournament.

Boothroyd and his side can take heart from their strong performances in Germany, along with their qualification for next summer’s U20 World Cup in South Korea.

Ojo created four goals in four appearances in Germany, with a hand in a goal every 54 minutes on average.

For Liverpool supporters, Ojo’s early exit from the U19 Euros can be seen as a positive, as the winger can now link up with Jurgen Klopp‘s squad for their pre-season tour of the US.

Klopp and his current group travelled to California on Thursday morning, and are to be joined by internationals from England, Belgium and Germany over the coming days.

Ojo could link up with his club team-mates immediately, though it remains to be seen whether he is given further time off.


Liverpool US Tour Squad (TBC): Karius, Mignolet, Manninger, George; Lovren, Matip, Klavan, Wisdom, Sakho*, Gomez*, Clyne, Randall, Alexander-Arnold, Moreno, Smith; Lucas*, Grujic, Can, Henderson, Milner, Brannagan, Stewart; Ejaria, Lallana, Markovic, Mane, Coutinho, Ojo, Wijnaldum*; Firmino, Ings, Sturridge, Origi, Benteke

(* – Injured, or yet to be signed)


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