Monday, June 18, 2007

England U-21 Advances to Semi-Finals

Goals from Leroy Lita and Matt Derbyshire propelled the England U-21's past Serbia's U-21's 2-0 in a game that was marked more by off-the-field activities than what occurred on the pitch itself. Chants from the Serbian fans directed at England defenders Nedum Onuoha and Justin Hoyte, both of whom are black, forced UEFA to make an impromptu anti-racism announcement.

"We will not tolerate your racist chants," the stadium announcer said just before the half-hour mark. "Please stop or leave the stadium."

Lita put England up 1-0 after just 5 minutes after finishing a missed header by Steven Taylor and his replacement Derbyshire scored a controversial second half goal to seal the deal for England. Talented young Serbian defender Slobodan Rajkovic was down injured at the time and Derbyshire received a pass from Kieran Richardson, dribbled right by the injured Rajkovic and slotted a finish home to make it 2-0 instead of playing the ball out to allow treatment for Rajkovic. Angry Serbian players then confronted Derbyshire on the sideline sparking a host of English players to come over as well. Pushing and shoving ensued but that was just the beginning.

Tom Huddlestone was sent off in the final minute of the match for foul and abusive language and chaos erupted in the tunnel after the game with Serbian and English players involved. UEFA will decide on taking action when they receive the official report handed in by the match delegate, but by that time England will be preparing for their semi-final game against the host nation Holland.

Huddlestone has been given a two-match ban for his actions, meaning the Tottenham midfielder will miss the final if England beat Holland on Wednesday.

Lita's goal:
Derbyshire's goal:

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