The opening games of the European Under-17 Championships all ended in draws on Wednesday morning, where Spain were held to a 0-0 draw by Italy, England and Holland shared a 1-1 match, and France rescued a late equaliser to tie Switzerland by the same scoreline. In the evening’s later match, Germany overcame a slow start to run out 3-1 winners over Turkey.
The tournament got off to an exciting start with three games kicking off early in the morning, and heading the bill was Spain vs Italy. Despite a dominant performance and numerous chances to win the game, the Spanish couldn’t find a breakthrough and a resolute, hard-working Italian team earned a point for their graft, even if it was a little lucky.
Meanwhile, over in Gera, England met Holland in another clash of the titans, and it was the Dutch who got off to the best start, scoring the tournament’s opening goal. Arsenal midfielder Ogunhan Ozyakup, captain of the Oranje, was afforded time and space to convert Shabir Isoufi’s cross after four minutes. The Dutch proceeded to dominate most of the first half before England recovered and had chances of their own, with Ozyakup’s club team-mate Jack Wilshere hitting the crossbar with a free kick just before half-time. Pressure continued into the second half and the introduction of Jonjo Shelvey turned the game crucially, and the Three Lions levelled with ten minutes to go courtesy of a crisp strike from Leeds left-back Tom Garbutt. Shelvey nearly won it with a late free kick of his own but a draw was the fair result on the day.
The morning’s third game was almost the first upset of the tournament, as France needed a late goal to stave off defeat from a competitive Swiss team. France appeared to dominate the scoreless first half without much by way of real danger, and fell behind in the second half with a goal from the prolific Nassim Ben Khalifa. It appeared as if Les Bleus were about to fall to a defeat when four minutes from time, captain Darnel Situ broke into the attack and volleyed an unlikely leveller.
To the evening and the hosts at a wet but well-attended Steigerwaldstadion in Erfurt, where they faced a tough Turkish team. The Germans started well but found themselves a goal down after Hasan Sari had bundled over the line from a corner, minutes after Florian Trinks had missed a sitter for the home team. The lead didn’t last long though, with Kevin Scheidhauer levelling from a Marvin Plattenhardt cross. It remained level until half time with much German pressure, but the second half continued in the same vein and took the lead through Liverpool’s Christoph Buchtmann, who beat Deniz Mehmet with a crisp effort. The first win of the competition was secured by Skhodran Mustafi, before Chelsea’s Gokhan Tore was sent off for a second yellow card late in the game to compound Turkey’s misery.
You can read more comprehensive match reports at UEFA.com, whilst coverage of the tournament will continue here.