ngland Under-21s exited Euro 2021 in heartbreaking fashion as goals from Ebere Eze and Curtis Jones were not enough in their Group D decider against Croatia on Wednesday.
Having lost their opening two games of the tournament to Switzerland (1-0) and Portugal (2-0), Aidy Boothroyd’s Young Lions needed to win by two goals and hope Portugal beat Switzerland to qualify for the knock-out phase.
An early penalty from Eze and a second-half strike from Jones looked to be sending England through, but a stunning late strike from Domagoj Bradaric found the top corner to send the Young Lions crashing out despite a 2-1 win.
England’s hopes of victory were dealt a blow even before kick-off with news that Ben Godfrey, Marc Guehi, Tom Davies and Emile Smith Rowe were all ruled out to add to Boothroyd’s woes.
But with Boothroyd’s job on the line, England – who had only had one shot on target in their first two games – put in an assured display.
England Under-21s took the lead after 12 minutes when Ebere Eze scored from the spot. Eddie Nketiah went down under the challenge of Bartol Franjic in the area. It was a soft penalty but Eze scored from 12 yards.
Jones grabbed what appeared to be the crucial second when he lashedinto the bottom corner with 16 minutes left – but Bradaric’s superb injury-time strike gave Croatia the goal they needed to qualify at England’s expense.
Tempers flared at full-time as Croatia celebrated wildly, with England players angrily confonting their opponents as Jones saw red for a second booking after the final whistle.