England Under-17s were cruelly knocked out of the European Championships in Baku after a 1-0 quarter-final defeat to Spain at the Bakcell Arena.
Despite dominating the game for large periods, England will rue a number of missed opportunities that ultimately cost them a place in the last four, as an early first half goal from Francisco Garcia proved to be enough.
The first half started slowly with both teams willing to suss each other out in the opening ten minutes.
Spain 1-0 England
UEFA European U17 Championship
Sunday 15 May 2016
Live on Eurosport
But it was Spain who began to enjoy possession and they struck the opening blow in the 11th minute with a well-crafted individual goal.
Garcia received the ball 30 yards out and dazzled his way past the England defence before poking it past the helpless Jared Thompson.
Steve Cooper’s men responded and could have been level minutes later though, when a flowing move down the left hand side resulted in Ryan Sessegnon pulling the ball back for Mason Mount, but the Chelsea forward hit his shot straight at the Spanish keeper, Peria.
And midway through the half, England went close again through Dujon Sterling as the Chelsea full-back showed his strength, as he has done through the whole tournament, but his cross-shot was pushed out by the keeper and England couldn’t follow up the rebound.
The Young Lions were beginning to enjoy much more of the ball as the half went on though and after a neat exchange, Reiss Nelson got a shot of from the edge of the box only for the keeper to save again.
Spain nearly made them pay and after avoiding the offside trap Abel Ruiz found himself through one-on-one but hit his angled shot in to the side netting.
The Spanish went close again towards the end of the half as Jordi Mboula had a shot deflected on to the post, but they were struggling to cope with England physically and the Young Lions were regularly getting in behind the Spanish, with just the final ball lacking as the half drew to a close with Sessegnon and Mount causing more problems.
England really should have levelled things up four minutes after the break when a lovely move saw George Hirst’s shot saved from point blank range, when the Sheffield Wednesday man looked destined to bury it.
With seven minutes to go, England missed another great chance to get back on level terms as a lovely move between Josh Bohui and Sterling saw the latter pull it back for Ben Morris, but the substitute’s shot was deflected out for a corner.
And from the resulting set-piece, captain Trevoh Chalobah rose highest but his powerful header was tipped over.
England had given it their all, as Spain were dead on their knees, but the Young Lions efforts were in vain and it is the Spanish who progressed to the semi-final where they will face Germany on Wednesday.
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Jared Thompson (GK) (Chelsea); 2 Dujon Sterling (Chelsea), 5 Trevor Chalobah (c) (Chelsea), 18 Morgan Feeney (Everton), 15 Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham); 4 Marcus McGuane (Arsenal), 6 Dennis Adeniran (Fulham); 8 Andre Dozzell (Ipswich Town) 10 Mason Mount (Chelsea), 11 Reiss Nelson (Arsenal); 9 George Hirst (Sheffield Wednesday)
Substitutes: 7 Ben Morris (Ipswich Town) for Hirst 64, 17 Joshua Bohui (Brentford) for Nelson 64, 16 Samuel Shashoua (Tottenham Hotspur) for Adeniran 67.
Subs not used: 3 Jaden Brown (Tottenham Hotspur), 12 Edward Francis (Man City), 14 Tolaji Bola (Arsenal), 21 Nicholas Hayes (Ipswich Town).
Goals: Francisco Garcia (11)
Head coach: Steve Cooper