After a slow start in arguably the weakest of the 3 groups in the Under 21 European Championships, which included the hosts Poland, together with Sweden & Slovakia, England's under-21 side topped the group having found a cutting edge scoring victories against the Slovaks (2-1) and the Poles (3-0).
With only 12 teams in the new format finals, the winner of each group plus the top runner up went through to the semi-finals. Spain and Italy won the other groups, Germany made the semi-finals despite losing to Italy in the final group game.
In the first semi-final Germany took the lead only to be pegged back before half-time through Leicester City's Demarai Gray, and then went behind early in the second half to a Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) goal before levelling the game at 2-2. After a goal-less extra time period penalties were required to settle the tie. Jordan Pickford, Everton's £30m keeper from Sunderland, had already saved one penalty in the first group game versus Sweden; but the pressure was on in this sudden death scenario.
Pickford saved Germany's second penalty but the advantage was short-lived when the German keeper saved the next penalty. Captain and Saints midfielder James Ward-Prowse smashed England's 4th kick in to make it 3-3, then Germany scored the next penalty before experienced cap and Saints striker, Nathan Redmond, stepped up only for the German keeper to dive to his right to push the shot away and win the tie for Germany.
Athletic Madrid's Saul Niguez scored a cracking hat-trick for the favourites Spain in the other semi against ten-man Italy, winning through 3-1 to contest the final against Germany on Friday 30th June in Cracovia's stadium in Krakow.