Neil Humphreys: Boothroyd's Young Lions have bite
If England U-21 side maintain their momentum, the semi-finals beckons
They didn't play like the Three Lions. They didn't get the usual result for the Three Lions. They won a vital match in a major tournament.
Aidy Boothroyd's gutsy battlers might need background checks after beating Slovakia 2-1 in their Group A match of the Euro Under-21 Championship yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Here's why England's kids are national impostors, which bodes well for their decisive clash against Poland.
1 COACH'S BOLD RISK PAID OFF
Steve McLaren was the wally with the brolly, drowning in the rain.
The cruel tabloids stuck a cabbage on Graham Taylor's head.
Sven-Goran Eriksson was more inventive with women than he was with substitutions and Roy Hodgson, the purveyor of retro tactics, always played like it was 1999.
The poignant image of a gloomy England manager sitting on his hands as another major tournament drifts away is a common one.
But Boothroyd refused to conform to stereotype.
His bold, calculated tactical change at half-time won the match.
By his own admission, England's first-half performance was sterile, negative and dull.
Up front, Tammy Abraham and Nathan Redmond were innocent bystanders.
Slovakia, blessed with 12 players already capped at senior level, pressed high.
England, with only three players capped at senior level, appeared unable to navigate a path out of their own half and deserved to go a goal down.
So Boothroyd intervened. He took off Everton defender Mason Holgate, who went AWOL when Slovakia scored in the 23rd minute, and brought on Norwich winger Jacob Murphy at right back.
It got a little bit heated, really. But Aidy (Boothroyd) was calm and calmed everyone down... We could have easily crumbled at 1-0 down, but we stood up and passed it with flying colours.England U-21 defender Alfie Mawson on the dressing-room inquest at halftime which sparked their comeback against Slovakia
Murphy surged forward and suddenly England had an escape route through Slovakia's incessant pressing.
Murphy provided the assist for Alfie Mawson's equaliser in the 50th minute and brought Redmond and Abraham into the game.
Boothroyd's substitution was intelligent, positive and highly productive, qualities not typically associated with an England manager.
2 THREE LIONS ACTUALLY ROARED FOR ONCE
Despite all that hyperbolic talk of another golden generation, it's worth noting that the Slovakia victory was England's second win in 11 attempts at these Finals.
Like Lions, like cubs, they have long faltered on the international stage, unable to replicate the consistency of their European rivals.
And they began against Slovakia where they had left off against Sweden.
Their first-half performance was uncertain and inhibited, as if handicapped by that mental straitjacket once more.
Defeat seemed inevitable, in keeping with England's cycle of hype followed by humiliation.
But there was a players' argument at half-time. Mawson, the Swansea centre back, admitted that a tense dressing room spilled over into confrontation.
So Boothroyd ordered the boys to channel their anger.
They ran out in the second half like uncaged animals.
Mr Hyde replaced Dr Jekyll. They charged at their stunned opponents.
When the equaliser came, an England winner seemed inevitable. England comebacks are never inevitable, not at major tournaments.
But, in this instance, they held on, displaying a resilience and maturity often lacking in their senior counterparts.
Considering defeat guaranteed an early exit, England's mental fortitude should not be downplayed.
Victory against Poland in the final group game on Friday morning is assured if the Three Lions keep roaring.
3 A FORWARD LINE THAT COMMANDS RESPECT
Boothroyd probably still misses Marcus Rashford.
The powers that be, at both England and Manchester United, have seemingly conspired against Boothroyd, insisting that the 19-year-old is a full-time senior international now.
It's a nonsensical justification, particularly when Redmond is four years older than Rashford and a senior international, too.
However, the boardroom politics at least allowed Redmond to partner nascent star Abraham.
Wanted at Newcastle and Brighton on loan, the rising Chelsea striker was eager to impress in this tournament.
His 26 goals on loan at Bristol City hinted at his potential, even if the calibre of opposition was occasionally less than stellar.
But, in the first half against Slovakia, Abraham and the ball were passing ships in the night. When England fell behind, the camera caught his obvious frustration.
But Boothroyd's half-time tweaks galvanised the front pair.
Abraham displayed a greater urgency in the penalty box. Only the Slovakia goalkeeper's boot denied him a goal and he expertly held off his marker in the build-up to England's winner.
Redmond followed his tried-and-tested route at Southampton, cutting inside from the left to drill a fine effort into the far corner.
Together, Redmond and Abraham looked quite the double act in the second half; confident, strong and penetrative.
In other words, they scarcely resembled the usual striking suspects in England jerseys.
If they maintain their momentum, the semi-final beckons.
Of course, most England teams do not reach the semi-finals of major tournaments. But Boothroyd's boys don't look like most England teams.