Pearce disappointed as Three Lions lose
Wednesday, 03 March, 2010
Under-21 Head Coach reflects on 2-1 defeat to Greece.
Stuart Pearce says he and his players were disappointed with the performance that led to their first defeat of their Euro 2011 qualification campaign, as Greece won 2-1 in Doncaster.
The result means that the Greeks are almost certain to reach the play-offs, but England must win their remaining two matches to at least finish as one of the four best runners-up and keep their Denmark dreams alive.
A goal in either half stunned a below-par Three Lions side, who rallied at the end but couldn’t restore parity. Nathan Delfouneso’s debut goal after he arrived from the bench was not enough to salvage a point.
“I’m disappointed with the performance and so are the players,” said Pearce.
“We didn’t play to a standard that is acceptable to us. Over the last three years we’ve been to a semi-final, where we were beaten on penalties, and to a final. So we know we can, and will, play a lot better than we did tonight.
“I’ve got to give credit to the Greeks, they played very well and we have to learn a lesson from it.”
He continued: “But it’s not the defeat that is the most disappointing thing, but the performance that contributed to it. Too many of our players didn’t play to their full potential. The boys are very disappointed in the dressing room.”
And Pearce faced up to the facts that anything less than six points will see England miss out on a play-off spot in October and end their involvement in the Championship.
But they’ll have to wait until September for their final two matches that will seal their fate one way or another.
“We’ve got to win our last two matches; we’ve got to win away in Portugal and at home to Lithuania. We know what we’ve got to do to go through.
“As I’ve said before this is a very tough competition to qualify for. Historically, 17 points will get you through to the play-offs as runners-up, but we have to win those last two games otherwise that’s our lot.”
He added: “When we go out in our next qualifier against Portugal, we know it’s all or nothing."