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Stephens scores injury-time winner as England U21s beat Italy

England celebrate the winning goal

England conceded just three goals in their qualifying campaign for Euro 2017

Jack Stephens scored a winner with the last kick of the game as England Under-21s extended their unbeaten run to 15 games by beating Italy.

Southampton defender Stephens smashed in on his home ground to bring up a 27th home win in a row for Aidy Boothroyd’s side.

England had not beaten Italy at this level since 1997 but were deserved winners in an entertaining game.

Leicester’s Demarai Gray and Chelsea midfielder Lewis Baker also scored.

England’s last defeat came against Italy in June 2015, which ended their European Championship campaign.

Both sides have qualified for the U21 Euro 2017 tournament, which will be held in Poland next summer.

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England took the lead when John Swift’s cut back was stabbed clear but only to Gray, who side-footed home.

Italy levelled when Swift gave the ball away, Andrea Conti ran at Brendan Galloway and his cross was deflected up over Angus Gunn and in.

Federico di Francesco then tapped Italy ahead from a corner before Baker hit a low equaliser after a one-two with Will Hughes.

And in stoppage time Stephens converted after Calum Chambers’ header was pushed out.

Interim England Under-21 manager Aidy Boothroyd:

“We have managed to qualify six times on the spin, what we have to do now is do as well at the tournament. That’s the holy grail, isn’t it?

“If we can do that then we will be in a good place.

“We learnt a lot about ourselves. We learnt we have plenty of character and can score goals from all over the pitch. We hit the crossbar and the post and we had an appeal for a penalty we thought we should have had (when Demarai Gray went down in the first half).

“I’m not saying it was all rosy because it wasn’t; we showed there are a lot of things we still need to work on defensively, but overall we are delighted to play such a major nation and get a result like that.”

Live Text

Match ends, England U21 3, Italy U21 2.

Second Half ends, England U21 3, Italy U21 2.

Goal! England U21 3, Italy U21 2. Jack Stephens (England U21) right footed shot from very close range to the top left corner following a corner.

Attempt saved. Calum Chambers (England U21) header from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse with a cross.

Corner, England U21. Conceded by Michele Somma.

Substitution, Italy U21. Leonardo Capezzi replaces Lorenzo Pellegrini.

Duncan Watmore (England U21) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Bryan Cristante (Italy U21).

Vittorio Parigini (Italy U21) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Isaac Hayden (England U21) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Vittorio Parigini (Italy U21).

Nathaniel Chalobah (England U21) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Alberto Cerri (Italy U21).

Bryan Cristante (Italy U21) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Will Hughes (England U21) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Bryan Cristante (Italy U21).

Foul by Nathaniel Chalobah (England U21).

Alberto Grassi (Italy U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Hand ball by Vittorio Parigini (Italy U21).

Attempt blocked. Tammy Abraham (England U21) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is blocked. Assisted by Will Hughes.

Brendan Galloway (England U21) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Luca Garritano (Italy U21).

Attempt missed. Alberto Cerri (Italy U21) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Lorenzo Pellegrini with a cross.

Hand ball by Will Hughes (England U21).

Substitution, England U21. Tammy Abraham replaces Lewis Baker.

Substitution, Italy U21. Bryan Cristante replaces Marco Benassi.

Substitution, Italy U21. Luca Garritano replaces Federico Ricci.

Substitution, England U21. Duncan Watmore replaces Demarai Gray.

Hand ball by Federico Ricci (Italy U21).

Nathan Redmond (England U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Michele Somma (Italy U21).

Corner, Italy U21. Conceded by Isaac Hayden.

Nathaniel Chalobah (England U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Alberto Grassi (Italy U21).

Substitution, Italy U21. Alberto Grassi replaces Luca Mazzitelli.

Substitution, Italy U21. Alberto Cerri replaces Mattia Caldara.

Substitution, Italy U21. Michele Somma replaces Andrea Petagna.

Goal! England U21 2, Italy U21 2. Lewis Baker (England U21) left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Will Hughes.

Will Hughes (England U21) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Isaac Hayden with a cross.

Foul by Calum Chambers (England U21).

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37896455