Result: England Under-21s draw Group A opener with Sweden Under-21s

Result: England Under-21s draw Group A opener
© SilverHub
England Under-21s open their 2017 Under-21 European Championship Group A campaign with a goalless draw against Sweden Under-21s.

England Under-21s opened their 2017 Under-21 European Championship Group A campaign with a goalless draw against Sweden Under-21s at the Kielce City Stadion in Poland on Friday afternoon.

Sweden had the opportunity to register from the penalty spot in the 81st minute, but full-back Linus Wahlqvist saw his spot kick saved by Jordan Pickford as the points were shared in the tournament opener.

New £30m Everton goalkeeper Pickford started between the sticks for England, while an experienced defence included Calum Chambers and Alfie Mawson.

Chelsea duo Lewis Baker and Nathaniel Chalobah were selected in the middle of the park, while James Ward-Prowse won his 28th cap in a wide position. Up top, in-demand Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham was supported by Southampton's Nathan Redmond, who was looking to add to his nine goals at this level.

As for Sweden, AIK midfielder Kristoffer Olsson, formerly of Arsenal, captained the holders on his 25th appearance at this level of football, while there were also starts for Simon Tibbling and Alexander Fransson, but Sunderland's Joel Asoro was not in the squad.

It was England that enjoyed the majority of possession inside the opening 10 minutes, with Mason Holgate afforded all sorts of space in a wide area as Aidy Boothroyd's side impressed in the early exchanges. The first half-chance of the match fell to Abraham, but the forward could only turn a Ward-Prowse corner.

Sweden were neat and tidy in possession of the ball, but the bigger threat was coming from England, with Redmond and Jacob Murphy winning their battles in wide positions. That said, the opening 25 minutes passed without major incident, and indeed without either goalkeeper having to make a save.

Pawel Cibicki had a decent chance to send Sweden ahead in the 28th minute after combining with Gustav Engvall inside the England box, but the number 18 could only lift his effort over the crossbar.

Ten minutes before the break, Murphy took the opportunity to strike one from distance after the Swedish defence that dropped off, but the Norwich attacker just missed the crossbar as the tight match remained goalless.

Abraham's second half-chance of the first period came in the 44th minute when the ball fell kindly for the 19-year-old inside the Sweden box, but his acrobatic effort missed Anton Cajtoft's crossbar.

Cibicki came close to sending Sweden ahead just before the hour after curling a brilliant effort towards the top corner, but the forward's effort rebounded off Pickford's crossbar as England survived a dangerous moment.

Baker had England's first opportunity of the second period in the 61st minute, but after meeting a clever corner from Ward-Prowse, the midfielder could only fire his effort over the Sweden goal.

Substitute Carlos Strandberg was next to come close for Sweden in the 65th minute after breaking into the England box, but the number 10 smashed his effort into the side-netting as the score remained goalless in Poland.

It was then England's turn to hit the woodwork as Ben Chilwell's deflected effort clipped the top of the crossbar during an end-to-end period of the match.

Ward-Prowse struck a sweet free kick towards the bottom corner 20 minutes from time as England again looked to make the breakthrough, but Cajtoft was across to make an extremely smart save.

Sweden had a wonderful chance to take the lead in the 81st minute when a rash challenge from Chilwell on Wahlqvist handed the defender the opportunity to register from the penalty spot, but Pickford stayed central to make the save.

Pickford had a nervy moment late on after failing to grab hold of a cross from Wahlqvist, but the danger was cleared as England settled for a point in their Group A opener. Next up for the Three Lions is a clash with Slovakia on Monday, while Sweden will face the hosts Poland on the same night.

Interim England Under-21s manager Aidy Boothroyd sings the national anthem before his side's friendly against Italy Under-21s at St Mary's Stadium on November 10, 2016
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