England Under-21s draw with Poland after superb Sebastian Szymanski free-kick
Sebastian Szymanski’s outrageous strike denied England Under-21s victory in their countdown to Euro 2019.
The Legia Warsaw midfielder’s stunning 30-yard free-kick earned Poland a 1-1 draw after the hosts failed to build on Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s early opener at Ashton Gate.
Jonjo Kenny hit a post but the Young Lions struggled to create clear chances against Poland, potential semi-final opponents in the summer.
Boss Aidy Boothroyd has just one more game pencilled in – Tuesday’s friendly with Germany in Bournemouth – before the summer tournament in Italy and San Marino.
There is around eight places are up for grabs with the manager clear, injury depending, on who 14 or 15 of his final squad will be.
But there will be a few looking over their shoulders after the friendly draw in Bristol as England failed to make their class count.
Poland started brightly and Ademola Lookman’s error allowed Jakub Piotrowski to slice wide before he fired at Angus Gunn from distance.
But it was only a brief early flicker from the visitors as England took control.
James Maddison’s brilliant ball dissected the Poland defence to set Calvert-Lewin away but he was foiled by Kamil Grabara.
Yet it only took the Everton man 13 minutes to open the scoring with a goal of simplicity and quality.
Jay Dasilva’s ball allowed Reiss Nelson to dart into the box and round Grabara before cutting back for Calvert-Lewin to tap in from six yards.
Nelson prodded wide from close range soon after and Grabara turned Jonjo Kenny’s piledriver over as England threatened a second.
The Young Lions were dominant but were pegged back by a Szymanski’s brilliance 11 minutes before the break.
Lookman fouled Leicester winger Bartosz Kapustka 30 yards out and Szymanski curled a stunning effort into the top corner.
The lack of an England wall, although odd, would have done little to stop it, such was the quality of the strike.
It knocked the hosts as they struggled to reassert themselves and it took until the hour, when Lookman’s shot was blocked and Kieran Dowell drilled wide, to rediscover their threat.
But gritty Poland refused to budge and caught England on the counter attack, only for Piotrowski to shoot straight at Gunn.
The Young Lions remained the aggressors, though, and almost regained the lead after 68 minutes.
A slick move involving Phil Foden, Maddison and Kenny saw the Everton full-back break into the box and his deflected angled effort was tipped onto the post by Grabara.
Substitute Hamza Choudhury nearly won it with three minutes left but curled wide from 25 yards.