England Under-17s were out-gunned by a ruthless Portuguese side as the visitors were crowned winners of The FA International Tournament.
After a thrilling first half that saw the lead change hands on four occasions, the firepower of the visitors proved too much as they triumphed 7-3 at Burton Albion on Sunday.
But despite the setback, the encounter and competition as a whole will have provided vital preparation for Steve Cooper’s side as they prepare to meet their opponents again in next month’s European Championship qualifiers.
It was an explosive start to the action as both teams landed a punch inside the first five minutes.
England 3-7 Portugal
The FA International Tournament
Sunday 30 August
Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion
The visitors struck the first blow in the third minute when a free-kick was met by the head of Jose Gomes – the forward sending a powerful header into the bottom left-hand corner past the outstretched Matthew Yates.
However the Young Lions clawed themselves level almost immediately from their own set-piece. Both attack and defence failed to connect with a floated ball in from the right, and goalkeeper Diogo Costa could only stand and watch as the ball ricocheted off the far post. A number of bodies attempted to pick up the loose ball, but Jordan Williams was quickest to pounce and notch his first England goal.
The action and goals continued as Cooper’s men turned the game on its head ten minutes later, but not before they survived their own scare. Portugal’s Chelsea midfielder Domingos Quina drove forward into the area but his fierce low drive was turned wide by Yates.
From the resulting corner the hosts broke after clearing the danger. Andre Dozzell fed the ball to Keanan Bennetts on halfway as they found themselves two-versus-one. The Tottenham winger drove forward and spotted the overlapping Mackenzie Heaney, who he slid in before the Newcastle youngster slotted past the keeper.
The tempo was relentless as both sides went at each other, and there was only a wait of six minutes until another goal arrived as Portugal drew level as goalscorer Gomes held off the challenge of Williams down the right of the area and pulled it pulled it back for Joao Filipe to stab home.
Back came England to regain the advantage, and the strike was all down to the efforts of Wolves youngster Niall Ennis’s sheer desire to chase a lost cause. The Portuguese full-back was attempting to usher the ball out of the play near the right corner flag, when Ennis nipped in, powered into the area whilst holding off two defenders and finishing across the keeper.
The drama continued as the pendulum soon swung back in the visitors' favour and Quina levelled the scores again on 28 minutes after Gomes was involved. He prowled inside the left side of the England defence, stroked the ball back to his team-mate on the edge of the area, before Quina pulled the trigger to level the scores.
And then Miguel Luis poked his side back into the lead at the near post, after good work by Filipe down the right.
Cooper’s charges regrouped as they pressed for an equaliser before the break and Dozzell was first to try his luck, striking an effort just wide before Bennetts hit the crossbar.
Unfortunately a further goal was to come, but not in their favour, when a long ball sailed over everyone as Filipe raced through to make it five right on the half-time whistle.
Three changes were made by the home side at the interval with attacker Samuel Shashoua, defender Edward Francis and goalkeeper Nicholas Hayes replacing Bennetts, Neufville and Yates, but Portugal would soon strike a further blow as Filipe completed his hat-trick four minutes after the restart.
Further substitutions were made as Sunderland midfielder Elliot Embleton and Manchester City defender Diego Lattie were introduced into the fray in an effort to find a way back, but it was the opposition who looked like they would add to their total.
Hayes had to produce a fine save to his top left to deny Nuno Santos, and then Embleton was on hand to clear off the line from the resulting corner.
The Young Lions refused to let their heads drop, however, and Dozzell had an effort tipped over the bar by Costa before the keeper saved from Shashoua.
Portuguese keeper Costa then produced two stops in a minute to deny the latter and Ennis as England looked to restore some pride, but their efforts were to be in vein as Rafael Leao rubbed further salt in their wounds with a late strike.
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Matthew Yates (Derby County), 2 Treoh Chalobah (Chelsea) (C), 5 Jaden Brown (Tottenham Hotspur), 17 Jordan Williams (Huddersfield), 3 Vashon Neufville (West Ham United); 4 Sadou Diallo (Manchester City), 8 Andre Dozzell (Ipswich Town); 15 Mackenzie Heaney (Newcastle United), 10 Adam Lewis (Liverpool), 11 Keanan Bennetts (Tottenham Hotspur); 9 Niall Ennis (Wolves)
Subs: 19 Samuel Shashoua (Tottenham Hotspur) for Bennetts (41), 6 Edward Francis (Manchester City) for Neufville (41), 13 Nicholas Hayes (Ipswich Town) for Yates (41), 12 Elliot Embleton (Sunderland) for Lewis (50), 16 Diego Lattie (Manchester City) for Williams (58), 14 Charlie Gilmour (Arsenal) for Dozzell (78), 18 Tyrese Campbell (Manchester City) for Ennis (78)
Subs not used: 7 Jonathan Leko (West Brom).
Goals: Williams (5), Heaney (14), Ennis (22)
Head coach: Steve Cooper
Portugal (4-3-3): 1 Diogo Costa, 2 Diogo Dalot, 4 Luis Silva, 5 Ruben Vinagre, 3 Diogo Queiros (C);15 Domingos Quina, 6 Florentino, 8 Miguel Luis; 10 Nuno Santos, 9 Jose Gomes, 7 Joao Filipe
Subs: 14 Gedson Fernandes for Quina (58), 19 Rafael Leao for Filipe (69), 16 Lamiera for Luis (69), 13 Diogo Leite for Queiros (79), 20 Joao Oliveira for Santos (79), 18 Paulo Estrela for Gomes (79)
Subs not used: 12 Joao Virginia, 17 Leandro Tipote
Goals: Gomes (3), Filipe (20, 40, 44), Quina (28), Luis (32), Leao (77)
Head coach: Helio Sousa