Sunderland's Joel Asoro grabbed a brace to condemn England under-17s to an opening game defeat on Friday afternoon at the UEFA U17 European Championships.
Steve Cooper's England will be disappointed with their inability to convert in a dominant second half in Azerbaijan. Reiss Nelson, arguably the best player in the side, finished from close range with twenty minutes remaining.
Nelson scores in opening game
Asoro gave Sweden an excellent start to leave them top of Group C following a draw between France, the holders of the competition, and Denmark. Arsenal's Tolaji Bola couldn't get the ball under control, allowing Asoro to break off on a quick run. Goalkeeper Jared Thompson attempted to make himself big but Asoro poked it past him in the fourth minute.
The Young Lions only arrived in Azerbaijan a few days ago, and within four minutes, their preparation was shocked. Cooper's team weren't too shaken by the early goal, Trevor Chalobah having an effort saved. Marcus McGuane was booked after only 13 minutes for a challenge on Mattis Svanberg.
Bola was substituted after 25 minutes, presumably with a knock that will hopefully be recovered from for Monday's big match against France. Nelson had a few efforts on goal to try and level things up, but couldn't force a save from Pontus Dahlberg. George Hirst, of Sheffield Wednesday, had chances too before Nelson picked up a booking late in the first half.
Asoro brace condemns England to defeat
Samuel Shashoua came on for Jaden Brown moments ten minutes into the second half after Sweden missed chances to make it two. It didn't take long for the second to come after that, though. Filip Örnblom was replaced by Emre Erdogdu before Asoro got his second of the afternoon. Nebiyou Perry found the Sunderland strike before he calmly finished by Thompson again, taking the lead to 2-0.
Dujon Sterling and Reiss Nelson, often regarded as two of the most promising players in the under-17 setup, combined well to respond to Asoro's brace. Chelsea's Sterling cut it back from the byline to Nelson who struck it past Dahlberg. The momentum was with England, as Cooper sensed, bringing on Ben Morris for Hirst.
Mason Mount and Shashoua had shots blocked but Asoro was still dangerous, forcing Thompson into a save. Oscar Petersson replaced Svanberg with ten minutes remaining but England couldn't convert to take a point. Mount had more chances, missing from a free-kick before Andre Dozzell, who scored on his debut for Ipswich Town last weekend to become their second youngest scorer of all time, and Shashoua had more chances to equalise but despite complete domination after Nelson's goal, they couldn't grab the second.
It's a disappointing defeat for the Young Lions given the domination in the second half and they know they must win against France to get the top spot.
In the other Group C match, Denmark and France - neighbours of Sweden and England - drew 0-0 to put the Swedes top going into matchday two.