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Solanke leads the way for England's young Lions

HAPPY DAYS: England players celebrate

DOMINIC SOLANKE struck twice as England reached their first-ever FIFA U20 World Cup final with an incredible second-half comeback in Jeonju. Italy took the lead after just two minutes through Riccardo Orsolini, the Young Lions being caught cold from a quick free-kick.

But after the interval England looked a class above their opponents and two Solanke goals in the final 24 minutes, sandwiched an Ademola Lookman strike to send Paul Simpson’s youngsters through to Sunday’s final.

Six of the starting line-up were stung by Italy 12 months ago at the European Under-19 Championship semi-final. And they must have been fearing the worst just two minutes in when, following a quickly taken free-kick, Andrea Favilli broke down the left-flank, turned inside Fikayo Tomori and squared to Orsolini who finished first time.

England were finding opportunities to break through a rigid Italian defence difficult to come by, their sole chance in the opening 20 minutes falling to Kieran Dowell who met Lookman’s deep cross with a chip that nestled onto the roof of the net.

Three minutes before the break Solanke was inches away from levelling the score. The Liverpool-bound forward ran across goal to meet Kyle Walker-Peters’ cross from the left, helping it on with a glancing header that bounced wide.

With renewed confidence Solanke burst through the middle moments later and hit a fierce 25-yard drive that keeper Andrea Zaccagno pushed away. The England No10 was looking the man most likely, and shortly after the break he carried the ball from one penalty area to the other before flashing a rifled effort narrowly wide.

Jonjoe Kenny, so impressive throughout the tournament, was next to go close, dragging a low shot wide across goal after exchanging passes with Everton club-mate Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Substitute Sheyi Ojo twice went close within minutes of his introduction from the bench, first he clipped the outside of the post with a strike from the edge of the box, and then he hit a powerful low shot that Zaccagno blocked with his right leg.

The equaliser on 66 minutes felt inevitable and it was no surprise Solanke got his name on the scoresheet, volleying into an empty net from 10 yards after Ojo’s cross from the right was pushed out by Zaccagno.

With 13 minutes left on the clock England took the lead. Another Ojo cross the right flank caused concern in the box, Italy failed to clear and Lookman at the far post blasted in his third goal in five matches.

With two minutes to go England wrapped up victory, Solanke found space 25 yards from goal and drove a low shot beyond the clutches of Zaccagno – his fourth goal of the tournament.
England will meet Venezuela in Sunday’s final, after they defeated Uruguay via a penalty shootout earlier in the day.

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