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Southampton (A) Sat 20 Dec 2014, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

Blues Help Earn Euro Draw

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Ross Barkley and Luke Garbutt helped England Under-19s kick off their European Championship Finals campaign with a 1-1 draw against Croatia.

The Everton duo both started the Young Lions' Group A opener in Estonia, while fellow Blues Hallam Hope and John Lundstram were included on the bench.

Manchester United's Sam Johnstone was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first half, as England struggled to get going against a lively Croatian side.

The stopper pulled out a number of fine saves before the interval, while Tottenham forward Harry Kane sought a breakthrough at the other end.

Barkley was amongst the chances too, firing into the side-netting after gaining possession and starting a move from midfield.

And the young Blue went even closer after the interval, firing a superb effort from 25-yards against the crossbar with Simon Sluga well beaten.

England went behind on 56 minutes when Marko Dugandzic nodded down for Domagoj Pavicic to sweep home, in a move that came very much against the run of play in the second period.

Manager Noel Blake will have been delighted with the response from his team however, with the equaliser coming almost immediately.

On the hour mark, Barkley began a move by feeding Garbutt on the left. The full-back's cross was only half-cleared and Chelsea forward Nathaniel Chalobah was on hand to fire into the top-corner from the edge of the box.

With the score now level at 1-1, England looked out to capitalise on their momentum. Garbutt's free-kick found Benik Afobe but Sluga was equal to the Arsenal man's effort.

Barkley was withdrawn on 84 minutes for Nathan Redmond as Blake introduced fresh legs in the search for a winner.

Late chances came at both ends, but the sides were forced to settle for a point apiece in their opening game.

The other match in Group B sees Serbia take on France, with England due to face the former in their second fixture on Friday.

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