England U23s defeat Portugal to remain unbeaten

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: A general view after the Premier League 2 match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at The Academy Stadium on October 23, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)

Following a tight draw to Italy, England U23s hosted Portugal at Manchester City’s Joie Stadium. The two sides last met back in April with the Young Lionesses taking a 3-2 victory from the tie.

Emma Coates’ side is unbeaten so far in 2023 as the squad competes in the new European Championship format. The competition was designed to bridge the gap between the youth and senior set-ups with top European nations facing each other in a league format.

Starting XIs

England U23s

Rendell; Morris, Pattinson (Pike ’86), Mace, Skeels, Bourne, Robinson (Naz ’45+1), Kearns (c), Beever-Jones, Blindkilde-Brown (Kendall ’86), Salmon (Gregory ’62)

Portugal U23s

Vilão; Rodrigues (c), Moreira, Almeida, Alagoa, Barboz (Santos ’80), Quierós, Areia Santos, Silva, Silva, Teles (Silva ’88)

How it went

The first half brought plenty of good chances for both sides in an end-to-end opening 45 minutes. Despite England’s U23s enjoying the majority of the possession, the home side lacked the clinical edge needed to finish their chances. The lack of in-front of goal left Emma Coates’ side vulnerable to Portugal’s quick counter-attacks. Ultimately the two sides would go in level at the break with the tie remaining goalless.

Jess Naz got the goal-scoring action underway in the second half as the Tottenham forward slammed the ball home just seconds after play resumed. A good chance for the visitors shortly after saw Kayla Rendell forced to pull off a diving save to preserve England’s lead. Kiera Skeels found the back of the net with an absolute world-class strike in the 76th minute to double the hosts’ lead.

The win sees Coates’ side continue their unbeaten run so far this year. The strength and depth found in England’s youth ranks was on display throughout the evening. The Young Lionesses controlled the game throughout despite facing a strong Portugal side. For the visitors, their defensive resilience was a key asset for the team alongside an excellent performance from Carolina Vilão.

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