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England U17s Secure FIFA U17 World Cup Qualification with 4-2 Victory over Switzerland in Play-off Thriller

England U17s ended this year’s European U17s Championships on a high note, defeating their Swiss counterparts 4-2 in a play-off match that secured their qualification for the upcoming FIFA U17 World Cup.

[Credit: UEFA]

Goals from Archie Gray, Zakariya Lovelace, Michael Golding, and substitute Kadan Young sealed the victory for Ryan Garry’s side, securing their ticket to the U17s Mundial.

Both teams entered the game after heart-breaking quarter-final defeats. Switzerland suffered a penalty shootout loss to Germany, while England fell to France due to an 89th-minute penalty winner. Consequently, the two nations had to face each other in a battle to secure the final ticket to the U17 World Cup later this year.

The opening ten minutes of the match were cautious as both teams recognized the significance of this play-off encounter.

In the 16th minute, Ryan Garry’s side took the lead through a brilliant sequence of play. Samuel-Smith delivered a long ball to Lovelace, who skillfully took on his opponent before finding Justin Oboavwoduo. Oboavwoduo then laid the ball off to Gray, who confidently struck a magnificent shot into the top left corner.

In the 30th minute, Tom Setford made a crucial save to deny Switzerland’s winger, Junior Ze, from equalizing as he capitalized on an England defensive error.

England increased the tempo of their game, and in the 41st minute, Zakariya Lovelace forced an impressive save from Muslija near the post.

However, just seconds before halftime, Elio Rufener calmly finished inside the box to level the score for Switzerland. Cheveyo Tswawa provided a cross from the right, which Junior Ze chested down for Rufener to poke the ball past Setford, providing Switzerland with a sense of relief. England, on the other hand, would have been frustrated to concede a goal just before halftime after dominating the game seconds earlier.

Swiss captain Demir Xhemalija put his side ahead early in the second half with a well-taken free-kick just outside the box that eluded Setford, granting Switzerland a significant advantage.

Moments later, Switzerland had a chance to extend their lead, but Tom Setford crucially saved Winsley Boteli’s close-range tap-in.

In the 62nd minute, Muslija had to push away Archie Gray’s long-range shot as England searched for an equalizer.

Their persistence paid off in the 66th minute when Lovelace scored, tapping in from close range after substitute Myles Lewis-Skelly drove into the box and delivered a low cross.

A minute later, Michael Golding put England ahead once again, making it 3-2 in this captivating play-off tie. Substitute Kadan Young dribbled past his marker inside the box and provided a low cross that Golding tapped in past Muslija.

With fifteen minutes remaining, Kadan Young scored England’s fourth goal, effectively putting the game out of reach for Switzerland. Oboavwoduo delivered a cross across the face of the goal, and Young converted from close range, giving England a comfortable lead over their Swiss opponents.

Switzerland made desperate attempts to mount a comeback, but Ryan Garry’s side defended resolutely and managed the game effectively.

Victory for England secures their place at this Autumn’s FIFA U17 World Cup, marking their fifth appearance at the U17 World Championships. The Young Lions will make their return to this prestigious competition, having previously claimed the trophy in 2017. Meanwhile, Switzerland must now shift their focus to securing qualification for the next European U17 Championships in Cyprus.

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