Slovenia U21 2-2 England U21: Young Lions held in Euro 2023 qualifier

Slovenia U21 2-2 England U21: Young Lions held in Euro 2023 qualifier despite racing into two-goal lead within 14 minutes through Conor Gallagher and Cole Palmer

  • Midfielder Conor Gallagher finished off a fifth-minute move to open the scoring 
  • Manchester City starlet Cole Palmer doubled their advantage in the 14th minute
  • Slovenia upped their tempo after the break to level in the Euro 2023 qualifier
  • Emile Smith Rowe went close to grabbing a late winner with an acrobatic volley 

From dancing in the rain to Slovenia’s deluge bursting their banks, England’s Under 21s escaped with a point and left ruing defensive fragility.

They were in complete control at the break, two goals clear – both of which magnificently crafted in hideous conditions – but a couple of soft set-pieces saw them in danger of losing a first European Championship qualifier in a decade.

‘I’ve made it clear that we need to learn from this experience,’ manager Lee Carsley said. ‘We gave them momentum, we were passive. We have to use that second-half performance as motivation to move forward.’

Midfielder Conor Gallagher fired England ahead in the fifth minute on Thursday night

Manchester City starlet Cole Palmer scored for the second successive game for England U21s

Slovenia U21: Turk, Mutavcic (Spanring 37), Stojinovic, Zec (Laci 52), Pavlovic, Markus, Zabukovnik, Zugelj (Ticic 80), Svetlin, Matko, Bosilj (Cipot 80).

Subs Not Used: Leban, Begic, Casar, Ostrc, Trontelj.

Goals: Spanring 50, Stojinovic 66.

England U21: Bursik, Aarons (Livramento 62), Guehi, Harwood-Bellis, Thomas, Skipp, Gallagher, Ramsey, Smith-Rowe, Brewster (Balogun 69), Palmer (John-Jules 69).

Subs Not Used: Green, Cresswell, Doyle, Garner, Gelhardt, Gomes.

Booked: Aarons.

Goals: Gallagher 5,Palmer 14.

First, the good. Conor Gallagher cannot stop scoring and the way in which he finished off a fifth-minute move suggested there are plenty more to follow.

Oliver Skipp had broken from midfield excellently, slipping in Rhian Brewster, and when the striker was felled inside the box, Gallagher met the loose ball with authority.

One quickly became two. Cole Palmer, Manchester City’s wiry forward, continued to underline his considerable promise with a sumptuous second on 14 minutes.

A raking Taylor Harwood-Bellis pass found Luke Thomas galloping down the left and Palmer met the cross, rolling his studs over a wet, bouncing ball before caressing into the corner.

It was a moment of class, but Palmer then failed to clear his lines from a corner moments after the break, allowing Mark Spanring to half the deficit.

Slovenia had upped their tempo and England’s disappeared. Carsley bellowed for more urgency but an equaliser arrived with 24 minutes remaining. Again, a corner. Dusan Stojinovic barely moved to nod home a free header.

England midfielder Emile Smith-Rowe skips past two Slovenia defenders on Thursday night

England Under 21s head coach Lee Carsley saw his capitulate in the second-half

England piled on the pressure late on but they could not a find a winner in Celje

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