Angel Gomes

FIFA U17 World Cup: England wins nail-biting clash against Japan, set up USA clash in last eight

The young lions showed their calm character today at the Salt Lake Stadium today by beating the Asian giants Japan 5-3 in a penalty shootout on a high voltage pre-quarterfinal clash of the FIFA U17 World Cup. They will face USA in the quarter-final in a couple of days time.

Though the England footballers failed to win the Euro Cup U17 final earlier this year where they lost to Spain in the penalty shootout. But the U17 colts held their nerve in front of a mass crowd of 53,302 people and substitute Bus Kirby scored the winner for his side after their goalkeeper Curtis Anderson made a brilliant save against Hinata Kida.

With this win England will play their third quarterfinal of all time in this grand tournament. They last played a quarterfinal back in 2011.

Steve Cooper's boys thoroughly missed their star forward Jason Sancho, who was the leading goal scorer in the group stage, as they failed to score in scheduled 90 minutes game against Japan whose defence played really well through out the game.

England remained calm during the penalty shootout as they scored all five penalties, which begin with Rhian Brewster, who opened the account for his side after Japanese goalie Kosei Tani made seeing dive.

They followed it up with Callum Hudson-Odoi, Philip Foden and even goalkeeper Anderson finding the target.

Japan's Yukihari Sugawara, Taisei Miyashiro and Toichi Kozuki scored but Kida's attempt was thwarted in a crucial breakthrough for England, who failed to find the target despite a flurry of attacks in the regulation time.

England sorely missed their star attacking midfielder Sancho and the team struggled to get their formation right with Callum Hudson-Odoi or Philip Foden pressed into his position, but without any fruitful result.

England will travel to USA for their round of eight clash in Goa on Sunday.

Japan were so defensive that their first corner came in the 63rd minute.

The match slowly picked up pace after both the teams looked tentative with their moves in the first 10 minutes.

In the absence of Sancho, who has been recalled by his club Borussia Dortmund, Foden occupied the attacking midfielder's position in the right-wing.

Foden initiated the moves but they failed to finish and survived a couple of Japanese onslaughts late in the first- half.

In the fourth minute, Japan had the first attempt at the goal when Soichiro Kozuki's right footed shot from the left side of the box was blocked by Curtis Anderson.

England had more than 60 percent first-half possession but Yoshiro Moriyama employed a defensive strategy to thwart the attacks.

The best attack of the first-half came in the 27th minute, when Foden put a through ball to Brewster whose thunder strike rattled the post.

The match picked up pace towards the half hour mark with Foden initiating moves from the right. England continued their goal search even as Rhian Brewster and Angel Gomes missed back-to-back chances.

In fact, the Cooper side went into the break under pressure with the Japanese attack stepping on the gas, though the Young Lions defence held on to thwart attempts from Soichiro Kozuki and Keito Nakamura.


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