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England Under-21s triumph in Toulon tournament

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England’s Under-21 squad have emerged victorious in the Toulon tournament for the first time in 22 years.

They secured the trophy with a 2-1 victory over host nation France in Avignon, with goals from Lewis Baker and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The solitary French goal came from Abdou Diallo.

England had progressed to the final through Group B, winning all four group games against Paraguay, Guinea, Portugal and Japan.

And Young Lions manager Gareth Southgate was aiming to continue their recent good form.

It was England who got off to the livelier start against their hosts, when skipper James Ward-Prowse, of Southampton, lifted a ball over the top for Chelsea’s Baker, who nodded home. The strike saw Baker end the tournament as top scorer, with four goals.

France took 22 minutes to create a chance of note, Olivier Kemen’s centre cleared by Arsenal’s Calum Chambers.

Roli Pereira Da Sa then tested the reflexes of Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford in the England goal.

But it was England who got the vital second goal just before half-time, and this goal was Made In Chelsea, Baker combined with Player of the Tournament Loftus-Cheek, before the latter fired home.

England were able to comfortably hold on in the second half, although the French made for a nervy last three minutes when Diallo, currently on loan at Zulte Waregem from Monaco, headed home from a corner.

The attentions of the Young Lions will now shift to the European Championship qualifying campaign, which resumes in September.

 

By Steve Osborne                  @BlizzardSteve75

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