It was a hectic Sunday for me trying to cover the first two quarter finals of the UEFA u17s tournament. First to the New York Stadium, home of The Millers, Rotherham United. The locals obviously preferred their Sunday roast and Yorkshire pudding than watching youth football. Announced attendance for Italy v Sweden was 1,061 but half those were freebies in the prawn sandwich section. UEFA and FA blazers, local dignitaries, scouts, agents and various team representatives. About 30 Azzuri andsimilar number of Swedish fans were amongst the fans on the far side in full voice.
Two deciding shots highlighted the action. First of all Edoardo Vergani of FC Inter opened the scoring in the 4th minutes and then late in the second half a penalty from Frederik Hammeroif IF Brommapojkama, an outstandingclub with a large youth programme in Stockholm was brilliantly saved by Young Azzuri keeper Alessandro Russo of ACF Fiorentina. The Italians are into the semi-final here in Rotherham on Thursday against the winners of Belgium v Spain today.
The night before the New York Stadium will be full as The Millers host Scunthorpe United in the 2nd leg of the Division One semi-final promotion battle after an away 2-2 tie. The winners head to Wembley.
Next via Sheffield with a change of trains there to Burton on Trent and a short taxi ride for Norway v England at the Pirelli Stadium. It could have been a lot simpler. UEFA had cars ready for their blazers but the media is excluded from such help. I arrived after the national annthems had finished, just in time for kick off. A decent crowsd of 5,102 showed up in the bright sunshine. The Pirelli only has the main stand with seats but the the other three sides are standing only and with one empty the other two were quite full.. Nigel Clough's Brewers have just been relegated to the First Division.
Steve Cooper's lads finally looked the real thing as they passed the ball with glee and Gunner Halle's team were in defensive mode form the start. This is the first time that Norway has reached this stage. Last year in Croatia they were unlucky enough to be in England's group but had an outstaning captain in Erik Tobia Sandberg of Lillestrom SK, and suffered from some dubious referee calls in other matches.
Bobby Duncan opened the scoring for England with a header after a slick cross from Nathanael Ogbeta of Manchester City. It was one of many delightful attacking combinations which this young team specialize in with free flowing movements all over the pitch which delighted the crowd In the 49th minute a semi-final place was assured with a goal from Xavier Amaechi of Arsenal. Unfortunately he and Ethan Laird will misst he match due to suspension.
England will play either The Netherlands or Republic of Ireland in Chesterfield on Thursday, with the advantage of an extra days rest.