England’s U-17 squad downed Portugal after a masterful pair of goals from London youth stars gave the Young Lions a second-half “comeback” and put them into the finals of the UEFA European U-17 Championships.
The score was 0-0 at the halftime break, but Portugal were well and truly on top after hitting the woodwork a trio of times in the first half and looked set to break through in the second 45.
However, Chelsea product Dominic Solanke put them surprisingly 1-up just six minutes into the second half as he controlled a long ball over his head with ease and finished with a beautiful chip of Portuguese keeper Fabio Duarte.
Then, Fulham youth star Patrick Roberts did what he does best, embarassing a total of four would-be tacklers in a bit of individual brilliance, dancing through the box and flicking the finish cooly into the back of the net.
Roberts and Solanke were just weeks ago on opposite ends of the FA Youth Cup final, but here they teamed up to bring England’s U-17 squad 90 minutes from a Euro victory. They will play the Netherlands in the finals, after they torched Scotland in the other semifinal.
It’s a great moment for a country that believes it is struggling to develop young talent in-house, and looking to devise creative but not so pratical methods of boosting development within its own league ranks.
At just 17 years old, Roberts could factor heavily into Fulham’s fold next season, having been relegated into the Championship and likely needing a striker after Kostas Mitroglou looks to be headed elsewhere.
His skills have been widely recognized, and failure to return to the Premier League quickly combined with a positive season in the Championship could see Roberts headed elsewhere. Various reports have named Arsenal, Real Madrid, and Barcelona as interested in the winger.