England Under-20s had to settle for fourth at the Toulon Tournament for a second year in a row after losing 2-1 to USA.
It was a tale of two penalties on a sweltering afternoon in southern France, as USA goals either side of Kortney Hause's equaliser meant England missed out on bronze at the annual summer tournament.
Aidy Boothroyd’s side will feel hard done by after a resolute display was quelled by two spot-kicks, the second of which particularly contestable.
England 1-2 USA
Sunday 7 June
The Young Lions had booked their place in the third-place play-off after beating China 3-1 in their final group game.
The contest began at electric pace with two goals inside the opening 10 minutes, and it was USA who struck first.
England had lined up with a back three of Jack Stephens, Baily Cargill and Hause.
And as the impressive Jerome Kiesewetter drove at the England defence he got ahead of Hause and a tangle of legs ensued.
The referee pointed to the spot and after England’s protests fell on deaf ears, Alonso Hernandez stepped up and calmly slotted past Christian Walton.
However, England reaction positively and were level within three minutes – and it was the man who conceded the penalty that applied the finishing touch.
After fine wing work on the left from Chelsea midfielder John Swift, Hause latched on the to the low cut-back and the ball trickled over the line. Error atoned.
From there, against a depleted USA side, England gained confidence and found their rhythm.
Newcastle’s Rolando Aaron’s looked lively playing in an advanced role alongside Swift.
Derby County starlet Kwame Thomas also threatened the USA back four with his physical presence.
But it was Baily Cargill who went closest to putting England into the lead as he twice went close in the opening stages of the second half. His powerful low shot from the edge of the box was well saved by former Southampton trainee Cody Cropper.
From that, America hit England on the counter-attack and seconds later Kiesewetter was bearing down on the Young Lions’ goal.
Jordan Pickford – a half-time substitute for Walton – did well to sense a loose touch from the Stuttgart starlet and charged out to quell the threat.
Moments later Cargill was again threatening and saw his header bounce back off the post before being scrambled away from danger.
The Bournemouth defender was in the thick of the action at both ends, and became involved in the game’s pivotal moment.
Throwing everything into the cause, he threw his body to block a Kiesewetter’s shot. The ball flicked up off this thigh and onto his hand.
It was enough to convince referee Fabio Verissimo to point to the spot for a second time, and USA captain Benji Joya stepped up to fire a perfectly-taken spot-kick high to Pickford’s left.
Chuba Akpom, Callum Robinson and Lewis Baker – all prolific scorers for England’s development teams – came off the bench in the closing stages, but were unable to find an equaliser and the Young Lions leave France without a podium place.
England (3-4-2-1): 1 Cristian Walton (Brighton & Hove Albion); 5 Jack Stephens (Southampton), 6 Baily Cargill (Bournemouth), Kortney Hause (Wolverhampton Wanderers); 2 Dominic Iorfa (Wolverhampton Wanderers), 7 Matty Grimes (C) (Swansea City), 18 Jamie Hanson (Derby County), 20 Duncan Watmore (Sunderland); 17 John Swift (Chelsea), 11 Rolando Aarons (Newcastle); 19 Kwame Thomas (Derby County).
Substitutes: 13 Jordan Pickford (Sunderland) for Walton HT. 10 Chuba Akpom (Arsenal) for Thomas 49. 16 Callum Robinson (Aston Villa) for Aarons 49. 4 Harrison Reed (Southampton) for Hanson 63. 8 Lewis Baker (Chelsea) for Stephens 75.
Substitutes not used: 9 James Wilson (Manchester United), 12 Isaac Hayden (Arsenal), Demarai Gray (Birmingham City),
Goals: Hause 10.
Head coach: Aidy Boothroyd
USA (4-3-3): 1 Cody Cropper; 2 Juan Pablo Ocegueda, 5 William Packwood, 4 Shane O’Neill, 3 Boyd Okwuonu; 8 Benji Joya (C), 14 Dan Metzger, 7 Dillon Serna; 16 Julian Green, 11 Alonso Hernandez, 17 Jerome Kiesewetter.
Substitutes: 20 Tyler Turner for Okwuonu 55. 15 Alfred Koroma Shams for Hernandez 63. Jalen Robinson for Metzger 67.
Substitutes not used: 22 Tyler Miller, 12 Charlie Horton
Goals: Hernandez 7 pen. Joya 66 pen.
Head coach: Andy Herzog
Referee: Fabio Verissimo (Portugal)