England’s Euro U21 hopes hang by a thread

England have won only four of their last 18 group games at Euro U21 finals

England’s chances of reaching the Euro Under-21 Championship quarter-finals hang by a thread following a limp display and defeat by Portugal.

Having lost to Switzerland in their opening game, England were second best, failing to have a shot on target.

Dany Mota’s low, angled shot and Francisco Trincao’s penalty decided the game in the second half in Ljubljana.

England must now beat Croatia and hope Portugal defeat Switzerland to have any chance of progressing from Group D.

Even if England and Portugal win then it would come down to a three-way, head-to-head between England, Croatia and Switzerland for one place, likely settled by goal difference. Croatia beat Switzerland 3-2 on Sunday.

The warning signs were there for England as early as the third minute on Sunday when Ben Godfrey was forced to head away a Mota effort from his own goal line.

England failed to heed them or, to be more accurate, were largely powerless to do anything about it against a far superior opponent.

Everton defender Godfrey had to perform a similar last-ditch salvage job later in the first half, again denying Mota with a sliding tackle at the near post as Aidy Boothroyd’s side struggled to preserve parity before the break.

With Fabio Vieira and Vitinha both firing just wide from range as the traffic continued to pour one way, it was only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken.

Mota was the one to do it, collecting a neat pass Pedro Goncalves inside the box before slotting his shot just inside the far post.

Trincao put the game beyond England from the spot after Marc Guehi’s stuck in a boot and caught substitute Goncalo Ramos in the box.

Qualification will also be beyond them unless they produce a markedly improved performance against Croatia on Wednesday.


Portugal U21

Formation 4-3-1-2

  • 1Meireles Costa
  • 2CorreiaBooked at 52mins
  • 4Queirós
  • 3Monteiro Pinto Leite
  • 5Dalot
  • 7Vitinha
  • 6Morris LuísSubstituted forSantos Bragançaat 45′minutes
  • 23VieiraSubstituted forConceiçãoat 63′minutes
  • 8Carvalho FernandesSubstituted forMachado Trincãoat 45′minutes
  • 18Pereira GonçalvesSubstituted forBarros Soaresat 88′minutes
  • 11Mota CarvalhoSubstituted forMatias Ramosat 73′minutesBooked at 90mins


  • 9Matias Ramos
  • 10Santos Bragança
  • 12Arantes Maximiano
  • 13Franco Tavares
  • 14Lopes Pereira
  • 15Embaló Djaló
  • 16Barros Soares
  • 17Machado Trincão
  • 19de Melo Tomás
  • 20Neto Lopes
  • 21Conceição
  • 22Neves Virgínia

England U21

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Ramsdale
  • 15Tanganga
  • 4GodfreyBooked at 67mins
  • 5Guehi
  • 14S SessegnonSubstituted forBrewsterat 83′minutes
  • 6DaviesSubstituted forJonesat 72′minutes
  • 16Skipp
  • 18Smith RoweSubstituted forEzeat 45′minutes
  • 23MaduekeSubstituted forGallagherat 72′minutes
  • 9Nketiah
  • 11R SessegnonSubstituted forMcNeilat 55′minutes


  • 2Aarons
  • 3Kelly
  • 7Cantwell
  • 8Gallagher
  • 12Wilmot
  • 13Bursik
  • 17Jones
  • 19Brewster
  • 20Eze
  • 21McNeil
  • 22Griffiths

François Letexier

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