Greece U19 0-2 England U19: England top group with polished performance

The Young Lions had their defenders to thank as Trent Arnold and Trevoh Chalobah scored to help them through to the next qualifying phase

Greece U19 0-2 England U19: England top group with polished performance
Trent Arnold celebrates converting a first-half penalty | Photo: Mark Robinson/FA/Getty Images
Greece U19
0 2
England U19
Greece U19: Siampanis; Vrousai (Oikonomidis, min. 88), Nikolaou, Retsos, Valmas; Lamprou, Natsos; Limnios (Milogevits, min. 90+1), Mingos, Panagou; Sampanidis (Pavlidis, min. 45).
England U19: Ramsdale; DaSilva, Suliman, Chalobah, Arnold; Field, Davies; Green (Sessegnon, min. 58), Willock (Nmecha, min. 74), Sterling; Hepburn-Murphy (Mavididi, min. 81).
SCORE: 0-1, min. 20, Arnold (P). 0-2, min. 63, Chalobah.
REFEREE: B. Millot (FRA). Booked: Retsos (min. 19), Sampanidis (min. 26), Sterling (min. 33), Natsos (min. 39), Green (min. 42), Panagou (min. 42), Davies (min. 44), Field (min. 56), Hepburn-Murphy (min. 76).

England U19 made their way through to the next phase of qualifying for the European Championships in Georgia next year with a hard-fought win over previous table-toppers Greece U19.

Keith Downing's side knew they needed all three points after beginning the final matchday of the qualifying group in third place, and a goal in each half was enough to settle a tense affair.

There were a number of bookings for both sides but Trent Arnold's first-half penalty and Trevoh Chalobah's imperious header in the second gave England an impressive victory and reason to be optimistic for the next round.

Greece on top in opening stage

After a fast-paced start in which Greece had more success forging a foothold in the game, it was they who threatened first with a flowing passing move from left to right. Late replacement Marious Vrousai forced a last-ditch block on the line with the English defence left badly exposed.

Vrousai was involved as the Greeks threatened again ten minutes later, cutting inside from the right and finding winger Dimitris Limnios in some space in the area.

There was an audible groan from the crowd as the 18-year-old went down under pressure deep inside the penalty area, but claims for a spot-kick were waved away and the ball was scrambled clear.

Willock inspiration helps England into lead

However, England's first truly promising attack was rewarded against the run of play with 20 minutes played as Arsenal's Chris Willock surged past three defenders down the left wing and had his feet wiped out from underneath him by Greek captain Takis Retsos as he shaped to shoot.

The responsibility for the penalty fell to Liverpool right-back Arnold and the 18-year-old made no mistake, stepping up to slam his spot-kick into the bottom-left corner and give England the lead they so desperately craved.

England were emboldened by the goal and Willock threatened the spectacular soon after with an audacious lobbed effort from the edge of the area, but goalkeeper Marios Siampanis had his wits about him sufficiently to back-pedal and make a simple catch.

Greeks look to hit back

The Greek holding midfielders had appeared to pay particular attention to their distance shooting in their pre-match warm-up, and but for a low save from Aaron RamsdaleSpyros Natsos would have pulled the scores level with a side-footed effort from 25 yards just after the half-hour mark.

Shortly after, Greece went even closer from a corner as centre-half Dimitris Nikolaou was allowed a free header from a corner, but his glanced effort bounced fractionally wide of the bottom-right corner.

With five minutes of the first half remaining, Ramsdale pulled off a superb reflex save down to his right as a driven shot from Limnios took a wicked deflection towards the far corner, but the Sheffield United keeper was equal to it.

First half marred by bookings

Tensions flared at the end of a half which saw seven bookings as Andre Green reacted angrily to a heavy shoulder-barge from Konstantinos Panagou, with both players booked after being pulled apart by their respective teammates.

Arnold went close to his and England's second goal of the game with a free kick from the edge of the area which had been won by Willock again, but his right-footed effort bent just wide of the top corner. 

Where England had threatened largely on the break in the first half, in the second they seemed to have more patience about their attacks with Greece looking to capitalise on wayward passes and launch counter-attacks.

They nearly succeeded in doing just that as Arnold's clearance fell straight to Natsos in a central position, but his looping shot dropped onto the roof of the net.

Chalobah power header doubles lead

England's second goal came out of nothing, with defender Nikolaou misplacing a simple pass back to his goalkeeper and conceding a needless corner.

From it, Field whipped in a devilish left-footed ball which was met superbly by England centre-half Chalobah, who rose high above the rest of the crowd to slam a powerful header in off the crossbar. 

While Greece looked to open up slightly in pursuit of a route back into the game after the second goal, clear goalscoring opportunities were few and far between in the final 25 minutes of the match, with a lack of movement in the Greek attack giving England a relatively simple job in defence.

England's game management in the final stages was impressive as they snuffed out every hint of a Greek comeback, and they should have had a third goal when substitute Stephy Mavididi shot straight at the keeper when put through on goal.

The result sees England move onto the next phase of qualifying ahead of the final tournament in Georgia next summer, with the draw for the Elite Round to be held on 13 December in UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.