Portugal U21 2-0 England U21: Aidy Boothroyd’s side on the brink of another shock

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Portugal U21 2-0 England U21: Aidy Boothroyd’s side is on the eve of ANOTHER early euro exit as Young Lions fail to register a single shot on target

  • Goals from Dany Mota and Trincao brought England to the brink of elimination
  • Portugal dominated when Aidy Boothroyd’s men failed to register a shot on goal
  • Ebere Eze’s introduction provider had some energy, but the team had no ideas
  • England must now beat Croatia and hope that other results make progress

One shot on target in 180 minutes. No shots on target from open play in 180 minutes. Pointless England may remarkably still qualify from this group, but even in the highly unlikely event that they do, this has been such a cathartic week.

A week that brings into sharp focus the country’s weaknesses and problems at this level, Gareth Southgate’s seemingly graduating school for seniors. The kind of week that makes tech directors reach for drawing boards.

Aidy Boothroyd’s contract expires this summer, and his opponents get louder with every tacky showing. Two defeats at the opening of European Under-21 games would always be a cause for serious criticism, but it’s the way they really worry the FA. No one can dispute that.

Aidy Boothroyd stares through the course of a second consecutive group stage exit with England

Aidy Boothroyd stares through the course of a second consecutive group stage exit with England

Barcelona winger Trincao made for a dominant Portuguese showing by scoring a penalty

Barcelona winger Trincao made for a dominant Portuguese showing by scoring a penalty

Barcelona winger Trincao made for a dominant Portuguese showing by scoring a penalty

England looked like a team without any idea. They don’t create anything. They don’t try. They look like a team of strangers, who have the pre-tournament chat of how the trail, and past experiences together in other age groups, together to ensure that the dismay of two years ago will not be repeated. It’s now three wins in the country’s last 18 games at this stage, dating back to 2009.

“We need to revise our record,” said Boothroyd. It’s a time to talk about what happened. We were nothing but favorites in the English press. We don’t make excuses.

‘We haven’t created anywhere near enough, close to as much as we used to. Considering the number of goals we scored in the run-up to this goal, that was a real strength of this group. Not having a real threat is not only disappointing, but also something we need to rectify. ‘

The really disturbing aspect of Sunday night against – it must be said – a technically very healthy Portugal, was the lack of urgency.

The difference between a defeat and a draw was insignificant for their hopes of qualifying. Both results dictated that Croatia should be fielded in Wednesday’s final game, while at the same time praying that Portugal would please them against Switzerland.

With that in mind, England’s lack of audacity was surprising, as if the concept of risk and reward didn’t exist. On one stretch, almost halfway through the opponent’s half, only three English players started for the ball and ended back with goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale a few seconds later.

Dany Mota ended a quick counterattack with a swept finish out of Aaron Ramsdale's reach

Dany Mota ended a quick counterattack with a swept finish out of Aaron Ramsdale's reach

Dany Mota ended a quick counterattack with a swept finish out of Aaron Ramsdale’s reach

Boothroyd claimed England intended to ‘bring the game to them’ before quickly adding, ‘We still wanted to play half time there.’

It’s no shame to lose to Portugal, but if you want to, give it a try. It raises questions about tactical cheating and how to manage these matches. Again, everyone was waiting for someone else to produce magic. That is certainly not the game plan.

England must beat Croatia with two clear goals to have a chance to make it to the quarter-finals. That they score twice would be just as surprising as the progression to the summer knockout rounds.

There is mitigation from missing someone like Jude Bellingham, who would provide more drive in central areas, and Mason Greenwood’s injury, but when you look at this line-up – just the atmosphere around the team’s performance – you wonder whether anyone could positively impact their fortunes. .

Ebere Eze gave England more of a spark - but the Three Lions didn't have a single shot on target

Ebere Eze gave England more of a spark - but the Three Lions didn't have a single shot on target

Ebere Eze gave England more of a spark – but the Three Lions didn’t have a single shot on target

The result means England must now beat Croatia and hope other results will take their course

The result means England must now beat Croatia and hope other results will take their course

The result means England must now beat Croatia and hope other results will take their course

MATCH FACTS

Portugal (4-3-1-2): Coast; Correia, Queiros, Leite, Dalot; Vitinha, Luis (Braganca 46), Fernandes (Trincao 46); Vieira (Conceicao 63); Goncalves (Soares 88), Mota (Ramos 73).

Subs not used: Djalo, Maximiano, Virginia, Mario, Pereira, Tavares, Tomas.

Targets: Type 64, Trincao 74

Yellow: Correia, Ramos

Red: none

Manager: Rui Jorge

England (4-3-3): Ramsdale; Tanganga, Godfrey, Guehi, S Sessegnon (Brewster 83); Davies (Jones 72), Skipp, Smith Rowe (Eze 46); Madueke (Gallagher 72), Nketiah, R Sessegnon (McNeil 55).

Subs Not Used: Kelly, Griffiths, Wilmot, Aarons, Bursik, Cantwell.

Goals: none

Yellow: Godfrey

Red: none

Manager: Aidy Boothroyd

Referee: Francois Letexier

The introduction of Eberechi Eze during half time gave England more impulses. Finally someone who is willing to slide past markers without fear of driving into space. However, he could not stand a sharp-witted Portugal alone. Eddie Nketiah was isolated, the troublesome Noni Madueke appointed by Diogo Dalot.

Portugal just looked slicker. They had every chance before taking this away from England, which had thrown crazy balls in their own third too many times. Oliver Skipp had no support in midfield, being robbed by several Portuguese approaching him, and the ball was in the net shortly afterwards. Dany Mota passed Ramsdale after a deliberate quick break 19 minutes after the break.

The game was over with 16 minutes to go. Marc Guehi made a foul on the ball and got on Goncalo Ramos’ foot in the penalty area. Francisco Trincao of Barcelona scored the penalty.

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