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Young Lions prove their Euro 2023 credentials with impressive Germany win

Cole Palmer (left) celebrates scoring the third goal (Mike Egerton/PA)
Cole Palmer (left) celebrates scoring the third goal (Mike Egerton/PA)

England Under-21s proved their Euro 2023 credentials with an excellent 3-1 win over Germany at Bramall Lane.

Folarin Balogun’s seventh Under-21 goal, Conor Gallagher’s strike and Cole Palmer’s late third earned the Young Lions victory.

Chelsea’s Gallagher led the recovery after Felix Nmecha’s opener to send Gareth Southgate another message of his desire to earn a senior recall for the World Cup.

England have just two more friendlies in March before next year’s tournament in Romania and Georgia but sent out a warning as they look to win it for the first time since 1984.

Boss Lee Carsley wanted his side tested, with games running out, and they passed their first with Thursday’s 2-0 victory in Italy.

Germany, third in the Under-21 rankings, provided another challenge, even if it was a friendly, but one Carsley’s men rose to as they came from behind in Sheffield.

The visitors scored 32 times in their 10 qualification games to ease to next year’s tournament and created the first chance of a tepid opening when Jan Thielmann dragged wide from 18 yards.

The seniors’ thrilling 3-3 draw with Germany at Wembley on Monday – a coincidental fixture given the game in Yorkshire – enjoyed a dramatic finale and this one took an age to ignite before Nmecha saw a drive deflect wide after 28 minutes.

A few of Carsley’s squad still hold faint World Cup hopes, Gallagher being the most prominent, but there was little first-half tempo and feistiness the manager demanded pre-match.

That caught up with them when Germany took the lead after 35 minutes with a goal of real simplicity.

The Young Lions switched off when Levi Colwill sliced an attempted clearance straight to Noah Katterbach on the left and Taylor Harwood-Bellis failed to close him down.

The FC Koln full-back had time to pick out a cross for the arriving Nmecha, arriving to out battle Max Aarons and nod in from six yards.

To their credit England responded strongly, with James Garner hitting the crossbar from Harvey Elliott’s corner, and they levelled four minutes before the break.

Jacob Ramsey and Anthony Gordon were involved and the Everton forward crossed for Balogun, on loan at Reims from Arsenal, to ride Angelo Stiller’s challenge and drill in off a post.

James Trafford nearly hit the self-destruct button immediately afterwards when he took too much time on the ball to allow Stiller to prod it to Thielmann, only for the Manchester City goalkeeper to recover.

The Young Lions emerged after the interval with renewed energy and grabbed the lead two minutes after the restart.

Ramsey drove forward and when his shot was deflected to Gordon he crossed for Gallagher to convert from close range.

Garner fired over from 30 yards and Balogun should have made it 3-1 when Gallagher’s persistence put him through, only for his shot to deflect wide.

Suddenly Germany were exposed and Balogun curled off target as England went for a third which finally arrived in stoppage time.

Substitute Palmer was sent scampering clear by Oliver Skipp and the Manchester City forward confidently found the bottom corner from 18 yards.