There were European Championship qualification matches on Thursday for both Under-21 and Under-19 international sides and while there were wins for Chelsea players at the older age group, it needed a Lewis Baker goal to win a point for the younger England side.
England Under-21s secured their expected win away to San Marino with a goal from Man United’s Michael Keane and a hat-trick from Tottenham’s Harry Kane. Nathaniel Chalobah was unused sub in the 4-0 win.
England are now in second place in their qualification group for the 2015 European Championships, one point behind leaders Finland with a game in hand, and level with Lithuania who are next up on Tuesday for the side coached by Gareth Southgate and our own Steve Holland.
Elsewhere, Chelsea Under-21 captain Nathan Ake played the whole of Netherlands Under-21s impressive 6-0 win away to Georgia, giving them nine points from nine in this qualification campaign.
Milan Lalkovic played the whole of Slovakia Under-21s’ match away to Scotland but the striker ended up on the losing side, the result 2-1 which leaves both sides three points adrift of the Dutch.
Baker saved England Under-19s from a potentially damaging defeat in the opening match of a qualification tournament for the 2014 European Championships at that level.
The Chelsea midfielder levelled from close range five minutes from time, the reward for an improved England performance in the second half against Slovenia who scored their goal early in the game.
Baker was one of three Chelsea starters against the tournament’s home nation. John Swift, his regular colleague in midfield at club level, went close with a first-half shot and Mitchell Beeney in goal was called upon to make a good save before the interval to keep the deficit down. Ruben Loftus-Cheek remained on the bench.
England now need to build upon the 1-1 draw when they play Andorra on Saturday before the final match against Switzerland on Tuesday. The top two sides from the four go through to the next stage.
‘We had to keep fighting and we knew that eventually a chance would come. It did and luckily we got a draw, but I think we definitely deserved it,’ Baker told theFA.com after the game.
‘We all know that in the first half we didn’t give our best, we didn’t work hard enough – I think we’re definitely going to improve for the next two games.’
In a four-team Under-20 friendly tournament in the Netherlands, a first-half goal from Chelsea defender Tomas Kalas decided the Czech Republic’s match against the home nation.