England’s Under 21 European Championship campaign came to disappointing close in the group stages following a dismal 3-1 loss to Italy on Wednesday.
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A point would have taken England to the semi-finals after Portugal could only manage a draw against Sweden in Group B’s other game, but it wasn’t to be.
The decision to omit the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley will surely now come under scrutiny as the Young Lions made a tame exit despite an excellent qualifying campaign.
England conceded two goals in as many first-half minutes after Italy forward Andrea Belotti met Domenico Berardi’s cross with a superb volley in the 26th minute, before Marco Benassi finished past Young Lions shot-stopper Jack Butland just a minute later.
Italy’s excellent defensive shape combined with England’s poor passing meant Gareth Southgate’s side were never in the contest, and Benassi grabbed his second with 18 minutes remaining to put the game beyond doubt.
Despite the win, the draw between Portugal and Sweden saw Italy also knocked out of the tournament and Nathan Redmond’s low drive provided an ending to a deflating night for both sides.