England’s unlikely lads were taken all the way but lifted the Toulon Tournament trophy after beating Ivory Coast on penalties.
They had been practising all week after training and it showed as they netted all five spot kicks, Leeds United midfielder Ronaldo Vieira smashing in the deciding one. He was named after the Brazilian Ronaldo by his mother and he can certainly take one like him.
It was a deserved outcome to tournament that Neil Dewsnip’s England squad arrived at as outsiders, composed of fringe Under 20s, 19s and a large bunch of 18s due to clashes with this summer’s other major tournaments.
England midfielder David Brooks celebrates after opening the scoring on Saturday
England celebrate after taking the lead in the 14th minute of Toulon Tournament final
England (3-4-3): Schofield 7.5; Tymon 6.5 (Tanganga 52 6), Worrall 7, Reece 6.5; Grant 7, Embleton 7.5, Vieira 8, Mitchell 6.5 (Slattery 77 6); Brooks 8 (Uwakwe 65 6.5), Hirst 6 (Ugbo 59 6), Barnes.
Subs not used: Balcombe, Moore, Kemp, Bolton, Taylor-Crossdale.
Manager: Neil Dewsnip 7
Booked: Worrall, Grant, Tanganga
Ivory Coast (4-4-2); Dante 6; Zai 6, Kouyate 6, Meleke 6, Diaby 6; Amani 5, Tiehi 6, Dakoi 6.5, Toure Yaya 6 (Yabouet 41 6); Loba 7, Krasso 6 (Agnero 57 6).
Subs not used: Niang, Kouassi, Bamba, Cisse.
Manager: Soualiho Haidara 6
Booked: Yobouet, Tiehi
Referee: M Orel 6
Stadium: Stade de Lattre
They were two minutes away from victory in normal time, taking the lead through David Brooks’s early strike, only for captain Joe Worrall to concede a penalty in stoppage time.
Little pressure was placed on these players’ shoulders but they shocked everyone in their path with a 100 per cent win record, finishing as the tournament’s top scorers on 14 goals. They have thrashed opponents and grafted for close victories.
Against the Ivory Coast it was the latter. They opened the scoring in the 14th minute, Leicester City forward Harvey Barnes powerfully driving through the middle with the ball. He had George Hirst to the right but opted to lay the ball into the path of Brooks on his left. His team-mate, sprinting at full speed, did not break stride as he shot high with his left foot and scored via the crossbar.
Brooks, who was named as player of the tournament, had almost opened the scoring two minutes earlier.
A ball into the penalty area was poorly cleared by the Ivory Coast and sent high into the air. To the right of goal, Brookes attempted a clever low shot towards the far corner with the outside of his left boot, but the ball rolled just wide.
England midfielder Demetri Mitchell (right) feels the full force of a robust challenge
When Brooks won a penalty in the last minute of the first-half, England should have put the game beyond their opponents. Ulrich Meleke panicked under pressure and spilled the ball on the edge of his own area and Brooks nicked it and was then fouled by the Ivory Coast defender as he tried to shoot.
Sheffield Wednesday striker Hirst, at that stage joint-top tournament scorer on four with Barnes and Angola’s Chico Banza, took the penalty, but his effort was low, too central and lacked power.
Ivory Coast goalkeeper Moustapha Dante saved and pushed the ball back out. England’s players had a strong claim for another penalty when Elliott Embleton was first to the rebound and appeared to be taken down, but the referee did not give it.
Brooks, who was named as player of the tournament, went close with a first-half strike
It made for a nervy second half as they were pressurised by the relentless Ivorians. Joshua Tymon, a Hull City defender, cleared a cross straight to Jean Thiery Amani who went for the right of goal. Goalkeeper Ryan Schofield flung himself to his left post but the effort went wide. On 57 minutes, a cutback found Jean Philippe Krasso and he struck it low and first-time, but England’s goalkeeper dived low to stop.
Then Worrall leapt in to stop Juvenal Junior Agnero but missed the ball and crunched the player. Ake Arnauld Loba was as calm as can be, waiting for Schofield to dive before rolling the ball to the right.
So the game went to penalties as there is no extra time in the tournament. It went to form until Amani’s fourth was weak and saved by Schofield’s feet.
England should have put the game beyond their opponents after Brook was fouled in the box