England 3 Italy 1: Solanke leads young Lions to World Cup final

England Under-20s have reached the World Cup final with a terrific 3-1 victory over Italy in Jeonju.

Paul Simpson‘s side had fallen behind to a second-minute strike from Riccardo Orsolini, but Dominic Solanke netted either side of an Ademola Lookman goal to earn the Three Lions a deserved place in Sunday’s final, where they will play Venezuela.

It took England just 22 seconds to win the first corner of the match in South Korea but after that came to nothing, Italy opened the scoring through Orsolini, who curled the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards after being teed up by Andrea Favilli.

Despite falling behind, England were the better team for the opening quarter of the game, but they were struggling to create any clear-cut chances with only an improvised effort from Kieran Dowell at the back post coming close to an equaliser.

While Italy were not seeing much of possession, they remained a threat on the break and although they had failed to build on their early opener, they looked the most threatening in the final third.

It was not until the closing minutes of the first half where England began to trouble the Italian backline, with Solanke having two opportunities in the space of 60 seconds.

Firstly, he glanced a header wide of the far post after meeting a cross from Kyle Walker-Peters, before a 25-yard strike was well dealt with by Andrea Zaccagno.

After the restart, England took time to get into their stride but when they did, they dominated an Italian side who started to look weary after playing extra-time in their quarter-final triumph over Zambia.

Solanke had the first effort, which was drilled marginally wide from 20 yards, before substitute Sheyi Ojo saw a half-volley deflected wide just 20 seconds after his introduction.

The next to try their luck was Jonjoe Kenny, who missed the far post from 20 yards by a matter of inches, while Ojo clipped the same post with a curling effort from outside of the box.

Again, Ojo was involved in England’s next attack but after dancing past a defender inside the penalty area, he could only fire a shot straight at Zaccagno from 14 yards out.

However, as the game entered the 66th minute, England were finally rewarded for their pressure with an equaliser through Solanke, who calmly volleyed into an empty net from 12 yards after Zaccagno had parried the ball into his path.

Italy were rocked and although they did well to initially see off more England attacking play, it was almost inevitable that they would concede a second and that came with 13 minutes remaining.

The excellent Ojo whipped in a cross towards the back post and after the ball fell invitingly for Lookman, he lashed the ball into the net from six yards to leave England closer to a deserved win.

Falling behind led to Italy throwing more players forward but that opened up space for England at the other end of the pitch and they did not require much encouragement to take full advantage.

After receiving the ball around 25 yards out, Solanke took the chance to fire the ball towards goal and his effort was parried by Zaccagno into the bottom corner.

The goal allowed England to see out the remaining minutes knowing that they had secured their spot in the final, and they are now just 90 minutes away from making history in a tournament where they had previously not won a game since 1997.

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