Final Four Calling For Garner and Branthwaite

England Under-21s are into the semi-finals of the UEFA European Championships after beating Portugal 1-0.

James Garner played the full 90 minutes as the Young Lions made the final four of the tournament and fellow blue Jarrad Branthwaite was an unused substitute.

Having featured against Germany four days ago, Branthwaite was on reserve for tonight’s game, whilst the freshly-rested Garner was back in action and raring to go.

Former Blue and current England Under-21s boss Lee Carsley went with the same side that began the tournament against Czech Republic, with Garner once again deployed at right-back after a pair of impressive performances in the position.

It was another strong start to the game from the Young Lions, with plenty of possession and probing in the final third.

Despite that, Portugal carried a threat and a strong save from James Trafford denied Pedro Neto from opening the deadlock.

More intricate football from England then nearly saw them take the lead, as the ball was worked wide to Jacob Ramsey and his delivery across goal was inches away from picking out Morgan Gibbs-White.

Moments later, the football that has been so effective from England throughout the tournament paid off as the opener was found. Gibbs-White picked up the ball inside the area and pulled back for Anthony Gordon to slam home.

With a place in the semi-finals on the line, Portugal stepped up a gear after the break and forced England into some defensive work. Strong blocks from Garner and Taylor Harwood-Bellis highlighted a desire to maintain their record of no goals conceded in the tournament.

One of the key themes of the second half was the battle between Neto and Garner, one in which Garner demonstrated the best of his defensive abilities against a quality Premier League forward.

With 18 minutes remaining, England were let off the hook as Henrique Araujo hit the crossbar with a flicked header.

After both of Saturday’s quarter-finals went to extra time, nerves were jangling in the England camp.

Portugal continued to press forward but the Young Lions showed outstanding defensive resolve to hold on to a vital victory - and preserve their record of not conceding a single goal in the tournament so far.

Having completed another 90 minutes, Garner won five ground duels, three aerial duals and made four tackles on the way to helping England to an all-important clean sheet.

The result means England will face Israel in the semi-finals on Wednesday at 5pm (BST).

Elsewhere, Demarai Gray featured again for Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup as the Reggae Boyz picked up an impressive 5-0 victory over Saint Kitts and Nevis in the early hours of Monday morning.

Playing at Levi’s Stadium in California, Gray made a third successive start. Primarily playing off the left-wing, the Everton forward was on for 82 minutes of the game.

After placing 2nd in group A of the competition – behind the Unites States, the result sees Jamaica progress to the quarter-finals. With games still to play, their opponent for the next round is still to be determined. That match will be on Sunday 9 July at 10pm (BST).