England U20s suffered a second defeat at this year’s Maurice Revello Tournament in France, losing 3-2 against Portugal in Salon de Provence.
Despite taking an early lead through Eddie Nketiah in what was a bright opening from Paul Simpson’s side, it was three goals in the space of ten first-half minutes from Portugal which turned the game around.
And following on from Saturday’s opening game loss to Japan, it means that the Young Lions’ defence of the title comes to an end after three years of successive tournament victories in Provence.
Nketiah, who was part of last year’s victorious squad, didn’t take long to pick up where he left off by opening the scoring in just the eighth minute. The Arsenal man was unfortunate not to have scored in the first instance, when his effort from Dwight McNeil’s cross bounced back off the bar.
And when Josh Sims’ rebound shot was diverted back into Nketiah’s path, he made no mistake and turned home from close range.
Portugal bounced back though, when Marcos Nascimento found an equaliser midway through the first half by catching out Ryan Schofield with a low shot rolling past him at the near post when the England keeper was perhaps expecting a cross.
And they turned the game on its head in the last five minutes of the first period, as Goncalo Cardoso got his head to a wonderful Nuno Tavares delivery ahead of Schofield to put them in front.
Three minutes later, they added another and the pick of the bunch as Felix Correia struck an angled volley past Schofield after Tomas Tavares was left with space to deliver a cross from the right.
It left a half-time scoreline that was a shade harsh on England, but Simpson’s side came out with renewed vigour for the second half.
And Nketiah almost found a lifeline, after superbly controlling Conor Gallagher’s lifted pass into the area only to see his volley saved.
England continued to press and Nketiah had the ball in the net just after the hour mark, only for an offside flag to see that effort ruled out.
They did pull a goal back in the 86th minute, when substitute Kyle Edwards’ cross from the right was moved on by Nketiah and into the path of Joe Willock, who finished from close range to set up a grandstand finish.
Portugal could’ve put the game to bed in stoppage time, when Trevoh Chalobah was harshly adjudged to have handled while blocking a shot in the area. Correia stepped up for the penalty, but Ellery Balcombe, on for Schofield at the break, made a good save to keep his team in with a shout.
They couldn’t find a breakthrough though and will now play their final group game against Chile on Friday evening, with the match being screened live in the UK on FreeSports.
England: 13 Ryan Schofield (Huddersfield Town), 2 Reece James (Chelsea), 6 Trevoh Chalobah (Chelsea) (c), 7 Eberechi Eze (QPR), 8 Joe Willock (Arsenal), 9 Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal), 11 Dwight McNeil (Burnley), 15 Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), 18 Max Lowe (Derby County), 19 Josh Sims (Southampton), 22 Jamie Shackleton (Leeds United)
Substitutes: 1 Ellery Balcombe (Brentford) for Schofield 46, 10 Marcus Tavernier (Middlesbrough) for McNeil 58, 16 Kyle Edwards (WBA) for Sims 70, 21 Danny Loader (Reading) for Shackleton 76
Substitutes not used: 3 Tom Pearce (Leeds United), 4 Sam Field (WBA), 5 Marc Guehi (Chelsea), 12 Steven Sessegnon (Fulham), 14 George Hirst (OH Leuven), 20 Josh Dasilva (Brentford),
Head coach: Paul Simpson
Goals: Eddie Nketiah 8, Joe Willock 87
Cautions: Max Lowe 69