England’s chances of reaching the Euro Under-21 Championship quarter-finals hang by a thread following a limp display and defeat by Portugal.
Having lost to Switzerland in their opening game, England were second best, failing to have a shot on target.
Dany Mota’s low, angled shot and Francisco Trincao’s penalty decided the game in the second half in Ljubljana.
England must now beat Croatia and hope Portugal defeat Switzerland to have any chance of progressing from Group D.
Even if England and Portugal win then it would come down to a three-way, head-to-head between England, Croatia and Switzerland for one place, likely settled by goal difference. Croatia beat Switzerland 3-2 on Sunday.
The warning signs were there for England as early as the third minute on Sunday when Ben Godfrey was forced to head away a Mota effort from his own goal line.
England failed to heed them or, to be more accurate, were largely powerless to do anything about it against a far superior opponent.
Everton defender Godfrey had to perform a similar last-ditch salvage job later in the first half, again denying Mota with a sliding tackle at the near post as Aidy Boothroyd’s side struggled to preserve parity before the break.
With Fabio Vieira and Vitinha both firing just wide from range as the traffic continued to pour one way, it was only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken.
Mota was the one to do it, collecting a neat pass Pedro Goncalves inside the box before slotting his shot just inside the far post.
Trincao put the game beyond England from the spot after Marc Guehi’s stuck in a boot and caught substitute Goncalo Ramos in the box.
Qualification will also be beyond them unless they produce a markedly improved performance against Croatia on Wednesday.
‘It is still possible and we will fight to the end’
England U21 boss Aidy Boothroyd, speaking to Sky Sports: “It is deeply disappointing. You’ve got to give credit to the opponent. They’re a very good team and we got them on a good day.
“We didn’t create anywhere near enough. Considering the goals we scored leading up to this, it was a real strength of this group. Creating chances and scoring is a big part of what we are so it is really disappointing, and something we need to rectify before the last game.
“We intended to take the game to Portugal. In the first half we stuck to game plan – we wanted to be in the game at half-time. That’s not a penalty in my view. We’re not going to give excuses. Now it’s about picking them up and going again.
“It is still mathematically possible and we’ll fight to the end. We’ve come here to play three games and we intend to. We wanted to go into the final game with it still in our hands and it’s not.”
- 1Meireles Costa
- 2CorreiaBooked at 52mins
- 3Monteiro Pinto Leite
- 6Morris LuísSubstituted forSantos Bragançaat 45′minutes
- 23VieiraSubstituted forConceiçãoat 63′minutes
- 8Carvalho FernandesSubstituted forMachado Trincãoat 45′minutes
- 18Pereira GonçalvesSubstituted forBarros Soaresat 88′minutes
- 11Mota CarvalhoSubstituted forMatias Ramosat 73′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 9Matias Ramos
- 10Santos Bragança
- 12Arantes Maximiano
- 13Franco Tavares
- 14Lopes Pereira
- 15Embaló Djaló
- 16Barros Soares
- 17Machado Trincão
- 19de Melo Tomás
- 20Neto Lopes
- 22Neves Virgínia
- 4GodfreyBooked at 67mins
- 14S SessegnonSubstituted forBrewsterat 83′minutes
- 6DaviesSubstituted forJonesat 72′minutes
- 18Smith RoweSubstituted forEzeat 45′minutes
- 23MaduekeSubstituted forGallagherat 72′minutes
- 11R SessegnonSubstituted forMcNeilat 55′minutes
- François Letexier
Match ends, Portugal U21 2, England U21 0.
Second Half ends, Portugal U21 2, England U21 0.
Foul by Filipe Soares (Portugal U21).
Curtis Jones (England U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Daniel Bragança (Portugal U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Rhian Brewster (England U21).
Gonçalo Ramos (Portugal U21) is shown the yellow card.
Gonçalo Ramos (Portugal U21) has gone down, but the referee deems it simulation.
Attempt missed. Gonçalo Ramos (Portugal U21) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Trincão.
Diogo Costa (Portugal U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Marc Guehi (England U21).
Corner, England U21. Conceded by Gonçalo Ramos.
Substitution, Portugal U21. Filipe Soares replaces Pedro Gonçalves.
Foul by Trincão (Portugal U21).
Marc Guehi (England U21) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Portugal U21. Conceded by Ben Godfrey.
Attempt blocked. Pedro Gonçalves (Portugal U21) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Trincão.
Foul by Daniel Bragança (Portugal U21).
Oliver Skipp (England U21) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, England U21. Rhian Brewster replaces Steven Sessegnon.