The Young Lions are out of the European Championships, despite an impressive 3-0 win over Greece.
UEFA European U19 Championship
The U Nisy Stadium, Liberec, Czech Republic
6pm (local time) Sunday 20 July 2008
Click here for the full tournament details
England U19s saw their hopes of European glory dashed on Sunday evening, despite a fine performance and win against Greece in their final Group B game.
The Young Lions knew they had to win the game to stand any chance of reaching Wednesday’s semi-finals, but were also relying on the result from the game between Italy and the Czech Republic.
If Italy won that game, then no matter what the score was in their game, Brian Eastick’s team would be knocked out and with the Azzurini running out as 4-3 winners, England's hopes of facing either Germany or Hungary in the last four were dashed.
What makes it harder to take is that England had arguably put in the best performances in the group, only for the ten minutes in the opening game with the Czechs which saw them concede two goals and lose to prove costly.
However, England's strong finish to the competition does mean that they have secured a place at the U20 World Cup, which takes place in September 2009 in Egypt, so many of this squad will be hoping that they can take part in that in competition in just over a year's time.
England were forced into one change from the team which were held by Italy on Thursday evening, with Joe Mattock coming into the line-up in place of the injured James Tomkins, with Ryan Bertrand playing at right-back and Mattock replacing him on the left side of defence.
The Young Lions could have been ahead after only four minutes too, when Danny Rose’s long ball over the top found Daniel Sturridge clear of the last man. He controlled well and shot at goal but Nikolaos Bampaniotis was out quickly to make a good block.
England were controlling possession and the pace of the game, but found the Greek defence a resolute obstacle in front of them, although Victor Moses and Rose were proving a threat on the ball in and around the Greek half.
One move saw Rose and Kieran Gibbs link up well before a ball was slid into the area by Rose for Freddie Sears, but Bampaniotis was out sharply to gather it in the nick of time.
Some great pressing by England in the 29th minute saw Sears latch onto a loose ball 25 yards from goal and when he laid it off to Sturridge, the striker’s powerful shot forced an excellent save from Bampaniotis as England looked to turn the screw.
Sears then popped up on the right and when his centre was only half cleared, Gibbs fired in a stinging left footer which was blocked by a desperate Greek defender.
England were really beginning to dictate the game and Gibbs again tried his luck in the 37th minute after receiving a pass from Bertrand, only to drag his low shot just wide of the target.
With half time just two minutes away, Greece somehow survived again when Ben Mee’s cross into the area caused allsorts of problems. After half a shout for a penalty when Moses appeared to be tugged down, the ball landed at the feet of Sears whose first effort was superbly saved by Bampaniotis and then Gibbs’ follow-up was blocked by Kyriakos Papadopoulos from close range.
Just three minutes after the restart and the Young Lions got the goal they deserved. Moses won a corner on the right hand side and when the Crystal Palace man swung the spot kick over himself, Mee (left) was there to power home a header from just inside the six yard box.
The advantage could’ve been doubled in the 49th minute when Moses’ cross from the right was met by Rose at the far post. His angled shot had Bampaniotis beaten but Evangelos Galanis was on the line to clear the danger.
The Greeks weren’t going to lie down though and enjoyed their best spell of the game with Eleftherios Matsoukas seeing a shot saved by David Button and then Apostolos Giannou was denied by the England stopper.
With 65 minutes on the clock, an England counter attack could have put the Lions firmly in the driving seat as Sears led the breakaway, flanked by Moses and Sturridge with only two Greek defenders back. Sears played a slide rule pass for Sturridge, but his chip went just over the bar.
Just two minutes later and England had the second goal that they had been threatening, when Sturridge was tripped by Vasileios Lampropoulos in the area for a penalty to be awarded. Sears stepped up to send Bampaniotis the wrong way and register his first goal of the competition.
Rose had to be alert to keep his clean sheet in tact though and he made a fine save to deny Greek skipper Ioannis Papadopoulos whose well struck free kick hit the target.
The result was made secure with just five minutes remaining, when Sturridge broke clear of the last defender, rounded Bampaniotis and netted from a tight angle.
Unfortunately for England though, the result elsewhere proved crucial and costly to result in an early trip home from the competition.
England: David Button, Jack Cork ©, Joe Mattock, Krystian Pearce, Kieran Gibbs, Daniel Sturridge, Freddie Sears (Scott Sinclair, 83) Danny Rose, Ryan Bertrand (Danny Gosling, 87) Victor Moses (Fabian Delph, 73) Ben Mee.
Subs not used: Jason Steele, Jamie Chandler, Tope Obadeyi.
Greece: Nikolaos Bampaniotis, Nikolaos Barmpoudis, Vaileios Lampropoulos, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Nikolaos Boutzikos (Stergios Psianos, 12) (Michail Pavlis, 46) Savvas Gkentsoglou, Eleftherios Matsoukas, Leonidas Argyropoulos, Evangelos Galanis, Ioannis Papadopoulos ©, Apostolos Giannou (Theodoros Karapetas, 58)
Subs not used: Dean Bouzanis, Michail Kyrgias, Sotirios Stratacis.