In a thrilling showdown at the Pinatar Arena, Manchester United’s young talent, Shea Lacey, displayed his prowess by netting a brace, while Sunderland’s Chris Rigg and Chelsea’s striking sensation, Shumaira Mheuka, also made their mark on the scoreboard.
This game marked the third outing for the MU17 squad during their recent camp. It followed a nail-biting 3-2 defeat to Portugal and a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Morocco in the past week.
Right from the get-go, England engineered a fantastic opportunity to break the deadlock, with Christian McFarlane delivering a pinpoint cross to find Finlay Cartwright. However, Cartwright’s left-footed volley was thwarted by the agile Diego Diaz. Leke Drake attempted to capitalize on the rebound, but his shot was brilliantly blocked by Real Madrid’s Marco Rivas, just a yard from the goal line.
The initial half-hour witnessed an entertaining exchange as both teams sought to swiftly move the ball and unlock the opposition’s defense. Spike Brits, England’s goalkeeper, was called into action, making a crucial low save to deny Sergio Vinatea’s powerful long-range strike.
Nonetheless, it was England who eventually took the lead in the 32nd minute. Fulham’s Joshua King initiated the play in Spain’s half, delivering a precise pass to Lacey. The Manchester United prodigy exhibited excellent control in the penalty area before calmly slotting the ball into the net with his right foot, despite the valiant efforts of the recovering defender.
Spain could have responded immediately, but Brits once again showcased his shot-stopping abilities, palming away Vinatea’s shot that was destined for the top corner.
The Young Lions didn’t relent and soon doubled their advantage. Another splendid cross from McFarlane on the left found its way into the box, where Captain Rigg nodded it home from close range.
The second half commenced much like the first, with both teams displaying attacking intent. Brits was once again called upon to make a crucial save, this time denying Ousmane Diallo’s low shot. However, it was England who proved to be more clinical. King, once again the provider, slipped the ball to Mheuka, who found the far corner with a precise low drive from inside the area.
Lacey came tantalizingly close to making it 4-0 before Spain managed to pull one back. It appeared that only something extraordinary could beat Brits on that night, and that’s precisely what Jose Antonio Reyes, son of the former Arsenal forward, delivered. The Real Madrid youngster unleashed a long-range strike that arrowed into the top corner, leaving no chance for the English goalkeeper.
England displayed a ruthlessness that outshone Spain throughout the match. In the dying moments, they sealed a 4-1 victory when Lacey found himself in a promising position on the right side of the box and calmly finished for his second goal of the game.
England’s Starting XI:
Spike Brits (Manchester City)
Christian McFarlane (New York City)
Joshua King (Fulham)
Freddie Simmonds (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Kian Noble (Manchester City) ©
Shea Lacey (Manchester United)
Christopher Rigg (Sunderland) ©
Shumaira Mheuka (Chelsea)
Mikey Moore (Tottenham Hotspur)
Leke Drake (Manchester City)
Finlay Cartwright (Middlesbrough)
Callum Olusesi (Tottenham Hotspur) for Cartwright in the 67th minute
Luca Fletcher (Manchester City) for Mheuka in the 67th minute
Jay Robinson (Southampton) for Moore in the 67th minute
Chukwuemeka Adiele (West Ham United) for McFarlane in the 67th minute
Jayce Fitzgerald (Manchester United) for King in the 83rd minute
Elliot Myles (Norwich City) for Lacey in the 90th minute
Femi Fapetu (Manchester City) for Rigg in the 90th minute
Substitutes not used:
Douglass Lukjanciks (Everton)
Souleymane Sidibe (Stoke City)
Jethro Medine (West Ham United)
Nicolas Michalski (Blackburn Rovers)
Joshua Hamilton (Leeds United)
With this impressive victory, England’s young lions have certainly left their mark on the Pinatar Arena. Their resilience and clinical finishing were on full display, and we extend our congratulations to the team for this significant achievement. As they move forward in upcoming tournaments, we hope to see them continue their stellar performance on the field.