England are in quarter-final action at the European Under-21 Championship in Kutaisi this evening. It’s been a superb tournament for the Young Lions so far, topping Group C without conceding a single goal and cruising through to the knockout stages after three consecutive 2-0 wins over the Czech Republic, Israel and defending champions Germany respectively.
Now Lee Carsley’s free-flowing side have their sights firmly set on a first appearance in the last four of this competition since 2017, and possibly even a first title since their back-to-back triumphs in 1982 and 1984. But first they must plot a route past Portugal, runners-up two years ago who beat England in Slovenia in 2021 as they crashed out in the groups again.
But Rui Jorge’s team are yet to impress in this edition, squeezing through Group A behind co-hosts Georgia, to whom they lost, after drawing with the Netherlands and narrowly edging out Belgium. Israel await tonight’s winners in a semi-final showdown on Wednesday after their dramatic penalty shootout win over Georgia on Saturday. Follow England vs Portugal live at the U21 Euros below!
2 mins: England, by the way, have gone back to Max Aarons at left-back and Everton midfielder James Garner in the right-back spot.
Morgan Gibbs-White and Anthony Gordon are attacking through the middle, with Jacob Ramsey off the left and Noni Madueke right. Angel Gomes seems to be floating across the pitch.
It’s all very fluid though, with players interchanging seamlessly in attack when needed.
We are underway in Kutaisi!
Can England reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2017?
15 minutes until kick-off in Kutaisi, where it remains sunny and 27 degrees at almost eight o’clock in the evening.
Portugal unchanged from Belgium win
Portugal are unchanged from the nervy late 2-1 win over Belgium that secured their passage through to the quarter-finals, sealed via an 89th-minute Tiago Dantas penalty in Tbilisi on Tuesday evening.
Talented winger Diego Moreira, who has just joined Chelsea’s ranks from Benfica, is on the bench.
Starting XI: Biai, Carlos, Amaro, Penetra, Tavares, Costa, Dantas, Conceicao, Neves, Silva, Neto
England revert to lineup from opening win
So Lee Carsley does reverse most of those eight changes seen against Germany as expected, with the likes of Max Aarons, Levi Colwill, James Garner, captain Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Angel Gomes, Curtis Jones, Morgan Gibbs-White and Anthony Gordon all returning.
However, Emile Smith Rowe remains on the bench as Jacob Ramsey maintains his starting berth after another swashbuckling display against the Germans.
James Trafford keeps his place in goal and Ben Johnson drops out with Aarons back after illness.
It’s the same lineup that started the Group C opener against the Czech Republic, with Tommy Doyle fit for the bench after a knee issue.
Thomas, Skipp, Archer, Smith Rowe, Branthwaite, Griffiths, Cresswell, Johnson, Doyle, Palmer, Rushworth
England XI: Trafford, Aarons, Harwood-Bellis, Colwill, Gibbs-White, Ramsey, Gordon, Garner, Jones, Gomes, Madueke
The official team news has landed!
Lineups on the way…
A look at this evening’s venue – the 14,700-capacity Ramaz Shengelia Stadium in Kutaisi, west Georgia.
It was the scene of England’s comfortable 2-0 win over Israel last Sunday, when both Anthony Gordon and Emile Smith Rowe were on the scoresheet for the Young Lions.
Will it be a happy hunting ground for Lee Carsley’s side again today?