England ended a 51-year wait on Sunday morning by winning the World Cup, though this time with their under-20 squad.
A squad led by former Carlisle manager Paul Simpson featured players from three different divisions with multiple representatives from Newcastle, Tottenham, Everton, Chelsea, Liverpool and Middlesbrough.
After beating Argentina and hosts South Korea in the group stage, alongside a surprising draw with Guinea, England faced Costa Rica in the first knock-out game with Everton teen Ademola Lookman twice on the scoresheet in a 2-1 win.
The next round saw a tough fixture against in-form Mexico, with new Liverpool signing Dominic Solanke’s goal early in the second half proving the difference. Solanke and Lookman then combined as they turned the tie around against Italy in the semi-final, with Riccardo Orsolini’s second minute striker cancelled out by three second half England goals.
The final brough the Three Lions up against a shock outfit in Venezuela, but it was Dominic Calvert-Lewin who made the difference this time with an impressive finish before Freddy Woodman saved a late penalty to see the tie out.
Dominic Solanke – Liverpool
The player of the tournament, following in the footsteps of Paul Pogba, Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi in the last three tournaments. With four goals scored in the competition, he was an unexpected hero for Paul Simpson’s team.
That should put him in good stead as he begins his career at Anfield after joining Liverpool from Chelsea whilst he was in Korea. After a frustrating season at club level, this tournament has more than vindicated his hard work on the training ground.
Strong and powerful, Nigerian born Solanke also possesses bags of pace. Whilst he didn’t have his shooting boots on in the final against Venezuela, he still proved a real threat with his determination and physical presence.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – Everton
Scorer of the winning goal in the final and only the third man to score for the Three Lions in a World Cup final, this Everton star impressed. Alongside his team-mate Ademola Lookman, the pacey duo terrified defences down the wings.
In his tournament winning goal, Calvert-Lewin showed all of his best features as he won the ball in the air before showing determination to tuck the ball into the back of the net at the second time of asking.
With 11 first team appearances under Ronald Koeman at Everton this season, the future is looking very bright for the youngster. He may have to go some way to beat his experience on Sunday morning in Suwon.
Lewis Cook – Bournemouth
Provided the assist from which Calvert-Lewin gave his side the lead and the captain of the side was crucial to their victory. It was only fitting that he would be the first Englishman to lift a World Cup trophy since Bobby Moore in 1966.
The holding midfielder was commanding with his breaking up of play and dictating of tempo and offered valuable protection for his back four. Such influential displays helped them to see out games and turn others around.
The ex-Leeds midfielder joined Bournemouth last summer but only broke into the team towards the end of the campaign. Given his success this summer, Eddie Howe may well feel confident enough in his ability to give him another shot next season.
Freddie Woodman – Newcastle United
The Newcastle United shot-stopper was the hero in the final as his penalty save from Adalberto Penaranda kept the score at 1-0 in the final ten minutes of the game. There was also an individual award for the 20-year-old as he picked up the Golden Glove.
With only three goals conceded in the seven appearances he made, it is clear to see why Woodman is tipped to follow in the footsteps of his father Andy who played for Brentford. He’s well placed too, given that his godfather is England boss Gareth Southgate.
Woodman decided to end his loan spell at Kilmarnock early to be in Korea and it was certainly a good decision. Having kept five clean sheets in 15 games in the SPL, he could push for a place in the Newcastle first team before too long.
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Junior Stanislas winner cliches Premier League survival for Bournemouth
The Cherries came from behind to beat West Brom on Saturday.
Bournemouth fought back from 1-0 down to secure a vital three points against West Bromwich Albion, as they took a huge step towards Premier League survival.
It wasn’t the best performance from the Cherries, but one player to standout was Junior Stanislas. The winger has been in good form during recent weeks and scored the winning goal on Saturday with a superb free-kick from range.
The 28-year-old is reaching the peak years of his career and he will want to be a regular starter in the top-flight. Bournemouth are a good fit for him, as there are no superstars and the team is greater than the sum of its parts. There are sprinklings of quality throughout and Stanislas is one of the players that can produce moments of brilliance on the pitch.
During the second half of the season, he has been one of the key attacking elements for Bournemouth. He has scored four goals in his last seven Premier League matches, but the one on Saturday was the most important of those as it was directly responsible for the win.
There were only minutes remaining and the chance came from a free-kick that was a long way out. Stanislas showed great confidence to take a shot and the resulting goal will go down as one of the best in his career to date.
The overall performance from Stanislas was a positive one, as he worked hard and contributed in both halves of the pitch from the left wing. The 28-year-old completed two dribbles and made one key pass during the contest, while his pass completion rate was 80%.
He was effective in possession and rarely gave the ball away, which aided the team’s attacking play. In addition to his goal, the winger offered a threat for the entire game and had four attempts on goal. This was the joint-most of any player on the pitch.
Eddie Howe demands total commitment from his players and everyone is expected to contribute to the defensive effort. Stanislas certainly did that on Saturday as he completed both of his attempted tackles. It is important for the wingers to work back and help their full-backs in a 4-4-2 formation. Both Stanislas and Jordon Ibe did their bit for the team.
With their victory over West Brom, Bournemouth moved into the top ten of the Premier League and sit on 36 points. That should put an end to their relegation worries, as they are eight points clear of the bottom three with only seven matches left to play. Although the Cherries have been in the top-flight for three seasons now, it remains a huge achievement to stay in the division given the size of the club.
The success has been due to the team spirit and players stepping up to the highest level. Stanislas is a great example of that, as he has spent the majority of his career in the Football League. He helped Bournemouth get promoted and has continued to improve since the club arrived in the Premier League. Now he is one of the Cherries’ best players and moments like his goal on Saturday reflect that.
Leicester City 1-1 Bournemouth: Three talking points from the King Power
Riyad Mahrez’s stunning 97th-minute free-kick rescued a point for Leicester City against Bournemouth.
Mahrez, who had been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City in the January transfer window, curled the ball past Asmir Begovic from 30 yards to deny the Cherries victory in a grandstand finish at the King Power Stadium.
Joshua King had given Bournemouth a first-half lead when he stepped up to dispatch a spot-kick after being fouled inside the area.
The Foxes threw everything at their opponents in the second period but had to wait until deep into added-time for a dramatic equaliser.
Here are three talking points…
Redemption for Mahrez after troubling period
The Algerian’s attempts to engineer a switch to City and subsequent failure to report to training had not been well received by Leicester supporters.
Mahrez had been a key figure in the Foxes’ phenomenal Premier League title triumph two years ago, but his reputation suffered a battering when he made it clear he saw his future away from the club.
After a difficult period for all involved, Mahrez is back in the fold and now back in the fans’ good books.
His last-minute goal against the Cherries certainly was evidence of his redemption.
Thirty yards out, the 27-year-old started the ball outside the wall and watched it bend back past Begovic’s outstretched right hand.
Leicester, who have never beaten Bournemouth in the top-flight, are winless in five Premier League matches, but they remain eighth in the table.
With Mahrez’s reintegration seemingly complete, a fruitful finish to the season could even help them push for a European place.
Howe ‘disgusted’ as Bournemouth concede so late
Bournemouth’s backs had been firmly up against the wall in the second half as they sought to hold on to their tenuous advantage.
It looked to have been a worthwhile effort until Mahrez’s moment of magic.
A share of the spoils was probably fair in the context of the game, but Cherries manager Eddie Howe admitted he felt ‘disgusted’ after watching the visitors concede so late.
Only four minutes of stoppage-time had been scheduled, but an injury to Simon Francis as well as a substitution meant referee Lee Probert played nearly double that amount.
Despite missing out on what would have been a crucial win, Bournemouth are edging towards safety.
They have lost only once since Christmas, a run that has helped them climb out of the relegation zone and amass 33 points.
Two more victories from their remaining nine fixtures should be enough to secure Premier League football for a fourth successive campaign.
Summer will be a key time for both clubs
In a league that is dominated by the so-called ‘Big Six’, the primary aim of the other 14 clubs is survival.
As mentioned above, both Leicester and Bournemouth are all but guaranteed to be playing in the top-flight next season.
The question for both in the summer will be, how can they push on?
The first job for the Foxes’ hierarchy and manager Claude Puel will be deciding the future of Mahrez.
Do they cash in on their star player and reinvest the funds into the squad, or do they try to tie him down to a new contract?
Bournemouth’s ambitions are perhaps not as high as Leicester’s, but after finishing ninth last season, another mid-table position will consolidate their status as a bona fide Premier League outfit.
On the field, there may be some significant outgoings as Howe looks to freshen his resources.
The out-of-favour Harry Arter is one player who looks likely to leave the south coast.
Off the field, the club will hope its plans for a new stadium get closer to becoming a reality.
Bournemouth 2-2 Newcastle United: Three talking points from the Vitality Stadium
Rob Meech brings us three talking points as Bournemouth fought back to salvage a point against Newcastle United at the Vitality Stadium.
Dan Gosling scored a late equaliser against his former club as Bournemouth fought back from 2-0 down to salvage a point against Newcastle United.
Two first-half goals from Dwight Gayle had deservedly put the Magpies in complete control on a freezing afternoon on the south coast, as the home side struggled to make an impression.
Newcastle squandered opportunities to extend their advantage before a stunning strike from substitute Adam Smith halved the arrears.
The Cherries suddenly looked a team transformed and they were back on level terms when Gosling pounced in the dying moments, ensuring they remain above Newcastle in the Premier League table.
Here are three talking points…
Smith inspires the comeback kings
Boos echoed around the Vitality Stadium when referee Roger East whistled for half-time, with the hosts two goals adrift following a lethargic performance.
Newcastle were good value for their lead, picking off the Cherries on the counter-attack to great effect.
Bournemouth needed a spark and that came from Smith, who replaced the ineffective Charlie Daniels at the break.
Smith’s boundless energy and marauding runs were just what Eddie Howe’s men needed to engage the crowd.
His first goal of the campaign came right out of the blue, with the purity of the strike leaving Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka rooted to the spot as it went in off the underside of the crossbar.
It was the catalyst for a comeback that has been a regular occurrence at the Vitality.
No Premier League side has collected more points from losing positions than the Cherries this season and this spirit came to the fore once again as Gosling made sure the points were shared.
Gayle rediscovers his goalscoring touch
After a spell of 11 Premier League games without a goal, much like London buses, two came along in quick succession for the Newcastle striker.
Both owed to his positional awareness (as well as unnecessary defensive errors from Bournemouth).
Gayle’s first, a cheeky back-heel after his initial effort had been blocked, rocked the home side.
And the former Crystal Palace frontman found himself well placed to double his account in first-half stoppage time when a cutback from the right inexplicably slipped underneath the hands of Asmir Begovic.
Gayle had a further three attempts as Newcastle searched for the goal that their endeavours merited but to no avail.
Despite being on a hat-trick, he was substituted on 78 minutes with his team on course for victory.
It looked like job done, but there was a late twist and he had to watch on helplessly as Bournemouth mounted a dramatic comeback.
Newcastle are still in a relegation dogfight
Victory for the Magpies would have lifted them four points clear of the drop-zone, with 10 games remaining.
However, their failure to hold on to a two-goal lead means only a couple of points separate them from 18th-placed Swansea City.
Make no mistake, Newcastle dominated the majority of this clash, which must make it all the more frustrating for manager Rafa Benitez and the club’s travelling supporters, who had made the long journey to Dorset and supported their team in great voice throughout.
Jonjo Shelvey was an instrumental figure for Newcastle but he spurned a gilt-edged chance to kill off the game, moments before Smith reduced the deficit.
Benitez should be encouraged with his side’s display, which built on the morale-boosting victory over Manchester United a fortnight ago, but he will rue the late collapse that saw them drop two points.
As the battle for survival increasingly looks like going down to the wire, it could prove costly.
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