U21 European Championship: Southgate urges young lions to bounce back from early setback

Ross McLean
Follow Ross

ENGLAND boss Gareth Southgate urged his side not to dwell on the disappointment of slipping to defeat against Portugal in their opening group clash of the European Under-21 Championship last night.

The decisive goal came 12 minutes into the second period when Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Mario forced the ball home from close range after Bernardo Silva’s low effort had cannoned off the post.

It was the first time in 18 matches that England failed to score, despite having 19 efforts at goal. Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard were the closest to finding the net with long-range first-half attempts.

Two-time champions England posted nine victories from 10 qualifying matches but now face a crunch clash on Sunday against early group leaders Sweden, who beat Italy 2-1.

“We have to move on quickly. My experience of tournaments is that if you don’t react well then you have no chance in the next game,” said Southgate.

“We still have a fantastic chance of going through. The next two matches are matches we can win. I knew that Portugal are as good as anything in the competition.”

Portugal’s winner stemmed from an unfortunate bounce off Everton left-back Luke Garbutt, while Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, who had produced an instinctive save to prevent a Liam Moore own goal, was unable to replicate his earlier heroics.

Southgate added: “The goal we gave away is an incredible bit of bad fortune.”

Related articles