DECLAN WARRINGTON / AIPS** in OLOMOUC: Substitute Jesse Lingard resurrected England’s hopes of reaching the UEFA U21 Euro semi-finals with an outstanding volley to secure the lone-goal victory which seriously threatened Sweden’s hopes of progress.

With five minutes to play Gareth Southgate’s team appeared destined for a 0-0 draw that could have ended their tournament and left them without a goal in 180 minutes of play.

Then Norwich winger Nathan Redmond earned a corner with a hopeful 25-yard strike, Sweden goalkeeper Patrik Carlgren fisted the kick clear and Manchester United’s Lingard volleyed the ball back into the far corner of the net.

This was England’s long-anticipated first victory in 11 games in the European under-21 finals since 2009.

In many ways the opening 45 minutes had mirrored England’s first half of last Thursday’s defeat by Portugal. There was a variety to both teams’ efforts on goal, in method and in range, but on only one occasion did either look like breaking through.

After a largely uneventful opening 40 minutes, in which England played like a side lacking belief and Sweden appeared superior, Alex Pritchard used fine footwork to dribble in from the left wing before shooting at Carlgren, who saved and helped scramble the loose ball away.

Tottenham’s Pritchard had come into the starting line-up in place of Lingard.

Sweden responded by breaking down the left and John Guidetti, having struck the ball low and true towards the bottom left corner, was denied only by a low dive and impressive save from England’s goalkeeper-captain Jack Butland.

Halftime change

England displayed little of the dominance in possession Southgate had predicted. Sweden, organised, alert and confident after an impressive victory over Italy in their opening game, had nullified any potential threat and demonstrated some of their own.

This may have explained Southgate’s half-time introduction of Burnley’s Danny Ings for Derby’s Will Hughes but little changed. Apart from an effort by Carl Jenkinson, who shot wide from inside the area after impressive defending from Sweden’s Joseph Baffo, neither side looked close to scoring.

By then Lingard had substituted for injured Pritchard, one of England’s more lively players, without initially exerting much influence. More impressive was England’s final substitute, Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The Chelsea midfielder played with an urgency and belief that at least created space.

Yet, just when a goalless draw loomed, Lingard appeared in the perfect position to seal England’s first victory at the under-21 finals in six years and, with it, an enticing final round of Group B games.

** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide and is co-operating with UEFA in running a Young Reporters course in the Czech Republic. More information:

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