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Jun 14, 2011

England draw, Spain beat Czechs

England's Under-21 European Championship campaign requires a weekend win against the Czech Republic for it to continue after a dull 0-0 draw with Ukraine in Herning.

The Eastern Europeans enjoyed the better of the first half and it required Manchester United's fledgling pairing of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones to put in a strong defensive performance. Daniel Sturridge alone looked lively of the young Englishmen as Stuart Pearce's Young Lions failed to improve upon Sunday's disappointing display against Spain, despite playing arguably inferior opponents.

Danny Welbeck missed England's best chance when put clean through Daniel Sturridge, who also hit the crossbar, but Ukraine might have won it, with Frankie Fielding keeping out Roman Zozulya's late effort.

Spain meanwhile continued to show why they are tournament favourites by making short work of the Czech Republic, who were much fancied themselves ahead of this tournament but lost 2-0 to a far superior team.

Atletico Madrid's Adrian scored twice from Juan Mata assists in the 27th and 47th minutes and both were well-taken finishes by the 23-year-old, who recently joined Atleti from Deportivo La Coruna. David De Gea meanwhile made a fine late save from Ondrej Celustka.

Spain top the group on four points with the Czechs still in second on three. England on two points cannot afford anything but a win on Sunday in Viborg.

England coach Pearce was typically bullish about England's hopes of avoiding an early exit, saying: "We go into the game Sunday having to win to go through but our destiny is in our own hands.

"This is why you bring players to tournaments, to perform under pressure. We've had two games against two really tough sides. We've come out of that, we've conceded one goal.

"It's all to play for once again. We go into the last game and everyone's in the mix."

He added: "I feel as though we can play better than we did. We've shown in the two games flashes of decent play where we've cut the opposition open. We've shown a real solid base at the back to give us a chance."

Defender Phil Jones, praised by Pearce afterwards, said: "We knew we didn't play very well in the first half and we responded in the second half - we just couldn't get that goal.

"We know we've got to go and win the last game and we'll give it everything to do that. We're working hard and we'll try to put things right in the next match."

Ukraine also need to win their final game to stand any chance of progressing and head coach Aleksandar Stavrev said: "Now that we have only one point, we know that we have to win the last game."

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