New Liverpool signing Dominic Solanke scores brace to fire England into U20 World Cup final

New Liverpool signing Dominic Solanke scores brace to fire England into U20 World Cup final

Teenage striker Dominic Solanke - soon to join Liverpool from Chelsea - scored a brace for England U20 as they booked their place in the final of the U20 World Cup in South Korea on Thursday by beating Italy.

Charlie Malam

Liverpool new boy Dominic Solanke scored twice, while Sheyi Ojo was also influential, as England Under-20s reached the U20 World Cup final for the first time in their history on Thursday afternoon.

Riccardo Orsolini had opened the scoring after two minutes but Solanke kept his composure to fire an equaliser just past the hour mark after Italy goalkeeper Andrea Zaccagno had pushed Ojo's cross into his path in the box. 

The Young Lions, managed by Paul Simpson, took the lead when another Ojo cross fell for Everton forward Ademola Lookman to lash home.

And Solanke added a decisive third in the closing stages with a 25-yard drive that Zaccagno could not prevent from sneaking into the bottom corner, sealing England's progression to the final.

Ojo and Solanke had chances throughout, the right-winger having struck the post soon after his introduction from the bench while Solanke forced a strong save and headed wide as one of his side's main threats.

It is the first time ever that England have reached this stage, where they will face Venezuela in Suwon, South Korea on Friday (11am BST kick-off), and they could make more history by becoming the first England team of any age group to win a World Cup since the famed 1966 side.

Whatever happens in the final it will be England's best ever campaign in the competition. Their previous record was coming third in 1993.

Only Orsolini - with five - has scored more goals than 18-year-old Solanke at the tournament, while fellow finalist Sergio Cordova of Venezuela has also scored four goals.

The Chelsea academy graduate - who scored an astonishing 41 goals across all competitions for the Blues' under-18s in 2014-15 - will join Liverpool upon the expiry of his contract on July 1.

Solanke looking to spearhead unprecedented England success

The Reds will be due to pay Chelsea a fee of compensation, to be decided via independent tribunal. Liverpool hope to buy the player for as low as £3 million, while the London outfit are expected to push for a fee nearer to £6 million.

Solanke made just one senior appearance at Stamford Bridge, spending last season on loan at partner club Vitesse Arnhem while he was shunned from the youth team this term due to his refusal to pen a new deal.

The teenager's performances at the tournament have indicated that Chelsea's loss will undoubtedly be Liverpool's gain, with Solanke well capable of inspiring England to a maiden U20 World Cup title.

That triumph would follow a success in 2014 when he helped England U17s to the European U17 Championship, a tournament in which he ended as joint-top scorer with four goals in four appearances - including goals in the semi-final and the final.

Solanke is expected to start off in Liverpool's under-23s team when he joins the club and will earn less than £20,000-a-week in accordance with the Reds' youth policy but could come into first-team contention for domestic cup competitions.

Ojo, meanwhile, could be loaned out with Liverpool keen to add senior wide options this summer - their pursuit of Roma's Mohamed Salah widely reported while they have also began talks with Sporting CP for Gelson Martins.

The former Milton Keynes scholar spent last season in the under-23s due to injury and a lesser amount of first-team games on offer, having broken into Jürgen Klopp's side towards the latter end of the German's first season at Anfield.

Several enquiries were rejected in January but Liverpool will field a number more loan offers this summer with Ojo having performed well for the U23s towards the end of the season with his pace, physicality and technique proving a lethal combination.