Euro Under-21s: Jesse Lingard says pressure eased on England

Media playback is not supported on this device

Euro Under-21 Championship: Hero Lingard hails England spirit

Jesse Lingard has said England's European Under-21 Championship win over Sweden has lifted the pressure on them.

The substitute's late goal earned a 1-0 victory which has left England's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages in their own hands after they lost their Group B opener against Portugal.

They now play Italy in their final group game on Wednesday.

"It's a weight off our shoulders. We're going to enjoy the moment, then we'll focus on Italy," the forward, 22, said.

"As soon as I hit the ball, I knew it was going in.

"The team spirit and togetherness is really good. We did that for ourselves and for our families."

Jesse Lingard
Age: 22
Position: Forward
Club: Manchester United
Loan clubs: Leicester, Birmingham, Brighton, Derby
Club goals: 12

Italy and Portugal drew shortly after England's victory - meaning that the Portuguese top the group with four points, while Sweden and England have three with Italy one.

Victory for England over Italy will guarantee their passage into the last four.

Lingard struck with just five minutes left in Olomouc and manager Gareth Southgate, who was joined in the dressing room after the match by senior boss Roy Hodgson, praised the player's "calm" finishing.

It came after he sustained a serious knee injury in Manchester United's season opener against Swansea, requiring six months to regain fitness before ending the season on loan with Derby.

"He's an intelligent footballer," said Southgate. "He's got very clean feet, sharp coming in from the lane, good movement. He's more the kind of wide player who's going to play and follow, but he's also got a goal in him because he's a calm finisher."

Until Lingard's late goal, it had been a frustrating evening in the Czech Republic for Southgate's side as they looked to respond to their defeat in their opening match by Portugal.

Yet Southgate saw sufficient positives to be in "confident" mood for their final group game against Italy.

"After the game the other night, we had to stop the bleeding a little bit," head coach Southgate said.

European U21 Championship
Group A: Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, SerbiaGroup B: England, Italy, Portugal, Sweden
Top two from each group advance to semi-finalsFinal takes place on 30 June in Prague

"We'd had hammer blows with the two injuries to outstanding players (Saido Berahino and John Stones) then the manner of the goal we conceded and the defeat, so we had to do a lot of work, making sure all of the noise around us didn't affect us.

"We've made a step in the right direction, it's in our hands now. In all likeliness we'll need to beat Italy.

"But now I think the momentum starts to swing with us a little bit."

"It was never in doubt" - Butland

"We knew it was coming, for us it was never in doubt," captain and goalkeeper Jack Butland said.

"We have got wins in us, we have got goal-scorers and we have the ability to keep clean sheets. It was a fully deserved win in the end.

"We have had enough bad luck this week, thankfully it fell for us this time. It fell to someone who has tremendous ability."

'Get the ball to Harry Kane'

"I have been very disappointed with the amount of changes England have created," said BBC Radio 5 live's Mark Lawrenson, who is in the Czech Republic covering the tournament.

"Harry Kane is a very good player but England have not managed to create enough chances for him or get enough players around him in the last third - the dangerous areas.

"Goalkeeper Jack Butland has done nothing wrong, Carl Jenkinson has given impetus down the right-hand side and Kane has done as well as anybody, but quite a few have not lived up to their reputations.

"England were a lot better against Portugal even though they lost that game. They moved the ball a lot quicker and the must do that against Italy on Wednesday.

"Watching them at this tournament is a bit like watching the senior side - you never know quite what team is going to turn up, but they have got a chance of going through and that is all you can really ask for."

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Denmark U2111002113
2Serbia U2110101101
2Germany U2110101101
4Czech Rep U21100112-10

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Sweden U2111002113
1Portugal U2111001013
3Italy U21100112-10
3England U21100101-10
View full Euro Under-21 Championship tables

Top Stories