Lee Carsley praises England Under-21s’ ‘brilliant spirit’ after winning opener

Lee Carsley praises England Under-21s’ ‘brilliant spirit’ after winning opener

England Under-21s head coach Lee Carsley praised the spirit of his squad after goals from Jacob Ramsey and Emile Smith Rowe secured a 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic in their Euro 2023 opener.

Chelsea forward Noni Madueke had signalled England’s intent early on when his effort came back off the crossbar.

Although the Czech Republic also had chances, with Vasil Kusej spurning the best of them when clear through on goal, the Young Lions maintained their composure to make the breakthrough at the start of the second half through Aston Villa midfielder Ramsey.

After Anthony Gordon saw a goal ruled out with 20 minutes left for Morgan Gibbs-White blocking a free-kick in the build-up, England continued on the front foot and were eventually rewarded during stoppage time when substitute Smith Rowe slotted home following a counter-attack.

England reached the semi-finals of the tournament in 2017, but failed to make it out of the group stage in both 2019 and 2021.

With holders Germany and Israel having played out a 1-1 draw in Kutaisi, Carsley’s side now find themselves in the driving seat for qualification from Group C.

“I am really pleased to get the result,” Carsley said on UEFA.com.

“The preparation has gone really well, but I didn’t want to jinx us before the game by saying that.

“There is a brilliant spirit within the lads. We feel like we’re in a good place.”

Carsley’s side next face Israel on Sunday before tackling Germany in Batumi on June 28.

Arsenal midfielder Smith Rowe said: “We wanted to make a statement in the first game.

“We knew the Czechs would be really strong, so we are really happy with the three points.”

The Czech Republic will now regroup for their second game against Germany.

“A match like this has to be the best motivation for the future despite our loss,” coach Jan Suchoparek said.

“It is not the end of the tournament for us and I am sure we will fight in the next two matches even more.”