England U21s player ratings: Eze and Jones shine despite exit

Aidy Boothroyd’s side needed to score two to stand any chance of going through and got off to a fine start as Eberechi Eze – making his first start of the tournament – converted cooly from the penalty spot inside 15 minutes.

The Young Lions sat off for most of the first half after the goal, Aaron Ramsdale coming to the rescue with a fine stop from Luka Ivanusec after the Croat pounced on sloppy play from England.

They came out flying after the break, Japhet Tanganga heading over while Eze and Dwight McNeil also came close with fine free-kicks.

England kept the pressure up and introduced Todd Cantwell and Rhian Brewster to find a second. The Sheffield United forward was involved quickly, getting down the right and finding McNeil with a cross. The Burnley winger did wonderfully to bring the ball under control and lay off to Curtis Jones, who finished confidently into the far corner to seemingly send England through by the skin of their teeth.

Boothroyd moved to a back three for added time but England paid late on as Domagoj Bradaric struck a stunner with just minutes to play to send Croatia through.

Here is how Jack Rosser rated the Young Lions…

Made a vital save from Ivanusec in the first half which kept England’s clean sheet intact at a time when Croatia were piling the pressure on. Could have done nothing about the goal.

Kept things tight at the back and worked well getting forward to push England on.

Moved centrally after playing at right-back last time out. Should have done better with his headed chance but fine work at the back.

Composed display on his first start of the tournament from Wilmot, who was brought in with Marc Guehi and Ben Godfrey unavailable.

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