England retained its Toulon Tournament title by defeating Ivory Coast on Saturday. The youth tournament in France featured some of the biggest names in world football, and after defeating Scotland in the semi-finals, England went into the finals Saturday against an Ivory Coast team that had beaten the Czech Republic to book its own place in the final.
England took an early lead in the match after Sheffield United’s David Brooks scored in the first half. After Brooks was fouled in the penalty area, Sheffield Wednesday’s George Hirst missed from the penalty spot, keeping the Lions from doubling their lead. Into the final minute, it appeared that the first half goal from Brooks would be enough for England to see off Ivory Coast, but with only seconds, Ivory Coast forward Arnaud Loba scored from the penalty spot after Chelsea’s Josh Grant had committed a foul in the box. The final then went to penalties where Ronaldo Vieira, the young Leeds United midfielder, scored the winning penalty with absolute class, putting the ball into the top corner.
Leeds fans already know the skill of Vieira at taking penalties, after he scored the winning penalty kick in the League Cup match against Norwich City this past season. Winning tournaments like this bodes well for the young England players. The England U20 team is set to take on Venezuela Sunday in the U20 World Cup in South Korea. Last year, Gareth Southgate took a team to Toulon and won the tournament, and many of those players are now starring for the U20 team that is currently taking on the world.
It is an exciting to see such a young player such as Vieira do so well internationally, and it bodes well for the future for the club. Bringing such players along and getting them into the first team is absolutely critical for the future of the club, promotion or not. Building a core of young players, as we noted before, is absolutely the right thing to do to drive Leeds forward.
But for now, Leeds fans should celebrate one of our own scoring the winning penalty for England. May he help lead Untied into the Premier League next season with more play like that.