Digital Football Journalist
England U21 1-1 Poland U21: Dominic Calvert-Lewin nets as Young Lions extend unbeaten run
Sebastian Szymanski levelled from 30-yard free-kick
Last Updated: 22/03/19 8:31am
Phil Foden impressed as a dominant England U21s were held to a 1-1 draw by Poland, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin on target.
Calvert-Lewin turned into an empty net from Reiss Nelson's cut-back after 13 minutes, which burst the Young Lions into life after a slow start.
But they were pegged back by a 30-yard stunner of a free-kick from Sebastian Szymanski, who fired a rocket of a shot into the top corner after Angus Gunn had decided against setting up a defensive wall.
After half-time England dominated and came close on a number of occasions, none more so than when Kieran Dowell's cross was almost turned in by Krystian Bielik, whose unwitting deflection was pushed onto the post by Kamil Grabara.
England: Gunn (5), Kenny (7), Tomori (8), Kelly (7), Dasilva (5), Dowell (7), Maddison (7), Foden (8), Lookman (6), Calvert-Lewin (7), Nelson (7).
Subs: Davies (6), Gray (7), Solanke (6), Barnes (7).
Poland: Grabara (8), Fila (6), Wieteska (7), Bielik (7), Stolarski (6), Dziczek (7), Kaputska (7), Piotrowski (5), Szymanski (7), Michalak (6), Buksa (7).
Subs: Swiderski (6), Gaska (7), Wdowiak (5).
Man of the match: Phil Foden
England came into the game without a defeat over 90 minutes in two years, but perhaps there was a little rust for Aidy Boothroyd's side to shake off early on, almost four months to the day since their 5-1 win over Denmark last time out.
Calvert-Lewin fired the hosts ahead early on, but it owed a lot to a missed interception from Mateusz Wietaska. It allowed Reiss Nelson to run at goal and round Grabara before squaring for the Everton forward to slot into an empty net for his seventh U21 goal.
That went some way to making up for a glorious chance he had already missed, when a wonderful slide-rule pass from Phil Foden set him away only to be denied by the legs of Grabara once he entered the box.
Jonjoe Kenny went closest to adding to England's lead as they began to dominate, when he was a whisker away from his second ever goal in professional football, but a 25-yard half-volley, arching towards the top corner, was turned over by a fine Grabara save.
Poland's Szymanski showed the form which has made him a mainstay in Legia Warsaw's side to equalise out of nowhere from a long-range free-kick. A three-man wall organised themselves ahead of Gunn's goal but the goalkeeper waved them away, before being beaten by a perfectly placed effort from the midfielder.
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England held on until half-time but re-emerged from the break with a higher tempo that put them back in control, and Foden could have scored himself but fired a foot or so over the bar from the edge of the box in the 52nd minute.
When Poland attacked, they generally targeted the England left and found plenty of space in behind Jay Dasilva. From a low ball in, Adam Buksa's backheel would have led to a simple finish had anyone in red been there to turn it home - but England were let off the hook, and continued on the front foot.
Kieran Dowell fired a yard wide of the near post from outside the area as they looked to ramp up the pressure, before another Poland attack from their right cut England apart, but an unmarked Jakub Piotrowski fired straight at Gunn from 20 yards.
England were nearly handed a huge slice of luck as they came within inches of scoring again courtesy of a huge deflection. Dowell drifted off the right and looked to cross towards the back post from a corner, but Bielik's touch took the ball towards his own goal and only Grabara's quick thinking kept matters level.
In the final minute of injury time, Poland could have inflicted a harsh defeat on England when substitute Karol Swiderski had a glorious chance from a corner but headed wide - and extended the U21's unbeaten run to 18 games.
Aidy Boothroyd: "We didn't have the final end product tonight. There were a lot of balls cleared by their defenders. We needed a bit more composure. But that is what the games are for.
"The whole point is to try to different things. They are big and strong and unbeaten in qualification. We dominated but could have ended up losing. It is a livener because there are good teams in the European Championships.
"We make mistakes but we have to learn from that. We switched off for their goal, but I am secretly quite pleased. Another win can lead to complacency. It is a reminder that international football is tough."
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