THE most exciting week of Jordan Pickford’s career has just got a whole lot better with his penalty-saving heroics against Sweden.
They always say that you cannot kick off a finals tournament with a defeat. And, thanks to Everton’s new £30million signing, the England Under 21s escaped from their opening game with a draw.
Mind you, I think I could probably have saved the pathetic spot kick attempt by Linus Wahlqvist – and the equally lame follow-up effort by Carlos Strandberg.
A draw was just about the right result and Young Lions boss Aidy Boothroyd can take some positives from a goalless draw against a decent Swedish side.
But there are also some causes for concern too. Namely, the fact that England managed just one effort on target in the whole game.
That is not going to take them far in a tournament we expect them to win. Or at least go close.
The likes of Abraham, Redmond and Ja Murphy are going to have to up their game because they were well off the pace first time out.
There will be changes for Monday’s showdown with Slovakia, for sure – and those three attacking players will be looking over their shoulders.
Thank heavens for Pickford who, despite a subsequent error which could have proved costly, deserved a special mention from the gaffer for his penalty save.
In his post-match press conference and as quoted on the BBC Sport website www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/40265130 – Boothroyd said: “These are the moments which change games and we’ve got a terrific goalkeeper.
“In an ideal world, you play really well and win the game but what you don’t want to do is lose. It was a typical opening game of a tournament, both teams could have played better. Overall it was a fair result.
“We could have moved the ball quicker and attacked crosses better. A lot of the players haven’t played 90 minutes for a long time and are feeling it. We are reasonably happy, made a solid start.”