England under-21 1-0 Portugal under-20: Southgate's men get off to winning start

Lewis Baker scored the only goal of the game as the young Three Lions earned three points to put them second in Group B, following Paraguay's earlier victory over Guinea.

England under-21 1-0 Portugal under-20: Southgate's men get off to winning start
England off to winning start | Photo: FA
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England: Pickford – Iorfa, Chambers, Hause, Chilwell – Chalobah, Ward-Prowse (c.), Loftus-Cheek, Baker (Grimes, 80) – Watmore (Woodrow, 67), Palmer (Redmond, 67)
Portugal: Pereira – Hildeberto, Dias, Verdasca, Henrique – Costa, Horta (Fernandes, 75), Gomes (Macedo, 69), Rodrigues – Baldé (c.), Silva (Ribeiro, 75)
SCORE: 1-0, min 60, Baker.

England U21s kicked-off their Toulon Tournament with a 1-0 win over Portugal following a goal from Lewis Baker on Wednesday evening.

The Chelsea midfielder, on loan at Vitesse, opened the scoring after a lapse in concentration allowed Ruben Loftus-Cheek to find his teammate unmarked in the six-yard box.

England dominated the stats but players and staff would be unhappy at only putting one goal past their opponents, despite a weakened lineup.

Gareth Southgate was without a host of attacking players with Jordan Ibe with the Liverpool squad following their Europa League final, whilst Arsenal’s Chuba Akpom played a part in Hull City’s promotion bid.

Portugal got the game underway kicking from right-to-left under the France sun as they looked to equal England’s record of four tournament wins, however it was England who looked the most threatening in the first-half.

England dominate from the off

Great movement from England almost led to the opening goal after 10 minutes when Loftus-Cheek found Baker inside the area - who tested Manchester United’s Joel Pereira – with a shot down low.

Baker then had the chance to open the scoring again just moments later, but Pereira was on hand to deny the Chelsea midfielder.

England dominated possession in the first 20 minutes as the frustration grew for Portugal, but it was Nathaniel Chalobah who was shown the first yellow card of the game. CD Tondela’s Romario Balde continued to press the Three Lions’ midfield, but the Portuguese player should perhaps have been shown a yellow for persistent fouling.

James Ward-Prowse continued to impress for England in the heart of the midfield, staking a claim for a place in the first-team with his excellent set-pieces and drive from midfield.

Baker was again in the thick of the action as the midfielder stung the palms of Pereira with a curling effort from just outside the area, but it was Portugal with the final effort of the first-half after Dalcio Gomes unleashed a ferocious effort from 25-yards.

Tides turn during second-half

Portugal started the second-half much better than they did the first. Gomes drove forward with the ball before finding Balde, who was denied by a last ditch tackle from Dominic Iorfa.

Andre Horta was the next player to test the English defence – which led to the younger brother of Malaga’s Ricardo Horta to test Jordan Pickford from 30-yards.

Lewis Baker (R) training prior to opening game | Photo: Tom Marshall/Getty
Lewis Baker (R) training prior to opening game | Photo: Tom Marshall/Getty

Despite Portugal dominating the possession, it was England who took the lead midway through the second-half. Baker continued his fine game with a deft-finish from six-yards out after the Chelsea man found himself unmarked in the area, firing past a helpless Pereira.

Jack Grealish made his debut for England in the closing stages, but the Aston Villa player was unable to contribute during his eight minute spell.

England’s next match will be on Monday against Guinea, who suffered a 3-1 defeat against Paraguay.