Five England U20 players to shine vs. Mexico: Cook, Solanke and Lookman
England will play Italy in the Under-20 World Cup semifinals after a hard-fought 1-0 win against Mexico in South Korea.
Dominic Solanke, who will join Liverpool from Chelsea on July 1, scored the only goal for Paul Simpson's side, who had Tottenham's Joshua Onomah sent off for an absurd second yellow card 18 minutes from time.
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The Bournemouth midfielder was England's best player by a mile and, on this evidence, the one most likely to be a Premier League regular next season. The 20-year-old's telling contribution was an assist with a weighted pass for Solanke but he controlled the tempo from holding midfield, passing with both feet and occasionally surging past opponents with the ball.
Cook always seemed to be in the right place to pick up loose balls and launch counterattacks and, as Mexico pushed for equaliser, he twice sent teammates running clear. In style he is not unlike Harry Winks, who made such an impression at Tottenham last season.
There's two Kyle Walkers at Tottenham, and they both play at full-back. The younger, 20, started at left-back and coped well with Mexico's most dangerous player, the touchline-hugging winger Uriel Antuna. Walker-Peters matched Antuna for pace and blocked most of his crosses or managed to shepherd the ball out of play, and he linked up well with Everton's Ademola Lookman at the other end.
Walker-Peters does not have much of a left foot though, which made his attacking play painfully predictable and he looked very tired in the final 10 minutes after Lookman was substituted, suggesting he is not ready to replace his outgoing namesake in the Tottenham team just yet.
There was plenty of attention on England's No. 10, who announced he was swapping Chelsea for Liverpool last week, but Philippe Coutinho will not be suffering any sleepless nights. Solanke showed good composure to score the only goal (although the goalkeeper should have done better with a tame finish) and he probably should have notched an assist, too, after presenting sub Dominic Calvert-Lewin with a good opening late on.
But for all his willing running, he lost the ball too often and he overhit more than one cross with his stronger left foot. Solanke looks like the right kind of clay for Jurgen Klopp to mould but he is a rough diamond right now, and it is not a big surprise that Chelsea felt comfortable allowing him to move on.
England's standout player at these finals had another decent game at right-back but his forward running was restricted by a Mexico team playing two traditional wingers in a 4-4-2. When he did attack, he rarely lost the ball and was always looking for a through pass into the channel. He has a fine understanding with Everton teammate Kieran Dowell, who played on the right of England's attacking midfield three.
Like Walker-Peters on the opposite flank, Kenny tired in the second half, overhitting his crosses and allowing his man to give him the slip. Fatigue will undoubtedly be a consideration for manager Simpson as he prepares for the semifinal.
The Everton forward has already scored in the Premier League and at times his superior physique and experience showed. In the first half, he was England's brightest player behind Cook, and his first-touch and dribbling were particularly impressive. He burst into the box after a fine one-two and, minutes later, nearly tricked his way through three Mexico defenders after another quick passing exchange.
He needs to be less selfish though -- more than once he took one touch too many -- and in the second half, in common with quite a few England players, he faded. He was the forward sacrificed after Onomah's sending off.
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.