Hot Rod seals top spot

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Football News

Stuart Pearce's decision to make 10 changes paid off as Jack Rodwell's equaliser against Germany gave England Under-21s a 1-1 draw and ensured they finished top of Group B in the European Championships.

After falling behind to Gonzalo Castro's opener at Orjans Vall, Pearce's fringe players put in the type of performance he was wanting and Everton youngster Rodwell was the outstanding player in a decent team performance.

Rodwell's maturity in midfield was rewarded when he headed the equaliser, meaning England play their semi-final in Gothenburg later this week.

With an eye on Friday's semi-final Pearce changed his entire team apart from Adam Johnson, with the likes of Theo Walcott and Micah Richards on the bench.

After dropping Walcott for the win over Spain, it was another surprising gamble from the Under-21 coach and it looked like the decision had backfired when Germany took the lead after four minutes. Jerome Boateng played Castro behind the England defence and the Bayer Leverkusen youngster slotted home between Scott Loach's legs.

England's first sight of goal came from a Craig Gardner corner, which Rodwell headed over the crossbar.

There was more encouragement when Richard Stearman went marauding forward, battling through tackles and exchanging passes with Gardner before going over in the penalty area under Benedikt Howedes' challenge, but referee Peter Rasmussen waved play on.

England's pressure was rewarded just before the half-hour mark when Rodwell headed home. Fraizer Campbell won a corner on the left and Gardner put it on Rodwell's head again, only this time he finished past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer after beating Andreas Beck to the ball. Rodwell could have added another before the break when he went on an exciting run, dancing around Howedes - but his finish was too high.

Pearce did not need to change much at the break but brought on Joe Lewis for goalkeeper Loach, meaning every member of England's squad had played a part in the tournament.

Lewis did not have a lot to do but was watchful when Patrick Ebert had a shot deflected that would have crept under the crossbar, while Mesut Ozil flashed a drive wide. Stearman saw a close-range effort block but both sides appeared satisfied with a point each. However, there is now the prospect of facing Germany again - this time in the final.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Premier League
Stuart Pearce
Micah Richards
Joe Lewis
Scott Loach
Adam Johnson
Craig Gardner
Fraizer Campbell
Richard Stearman
Theo Walcott
Jack Rodwell

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