Two late goals are decisive as England have victory snatched away from them in a frenetic last 15 minutes that sees Three Lions hopes of progression die with defeat.England Under 21's European dream is over. In a game they needed to win, two late goals from Jan Chramosta and Tomas Pekhart ensured Czech Republic Under-21 progress to the semi-finals as the Young Lions crashed out of the tournament.
With Spain already through as group winners both sides knew that anything other than a win for England would mean they would be heading home. For much of the evening neither side showed much urgency with so much riding on the result but the final 15 minutes decided the game.
Very little urgency or zest was displayed by England and until Lukas Marecek showed great improvisational skill to smash a right-footed volley goalwards, forcing a marvellous save from Frankie Fielding.
England’s best chance to open the scoring was fluffed by Tom Cleverley. A surging run down the left by Ryan Bertrand opened space to allow him to deliver a deep cross to the far post which the Manchester United man prodded wide.
Scott Sinclair would have been cursing his luck after 40 minutes when his drive from the left channel drew an excellent save from Tomas Vaclik. It was a glimpse of what England can produce but they were troubling Vaclik too infrequently to unsettle the Czech Republic.
Into the second half things were not improving for England. There was much huffing and puffing but attempts on the Czech goal were from too far out to have any real venom.
England could have made their plight much graver just after the hour when Sinclair’s decision to drop back and help out at the back almost cost a goal. Sinclair slid in to clear the danger but he accidentally pushed the ball into the path of Marecek, whose shot was wayward.
Pearce elected to shake things up a little when he brought Henri Lansbury on for Jordan Henderson in an attempt to alter the look of England who were still searching for the lifeline.
That lifeline was firmly grasped not long after when Welbeck’s header gave England the goal they were looking for. Daniel Sturridge was the provider as he delivered an excellent cross which the Manchester United forward deftly directed beyond Vaclik.
The goal turned matters on their head, and now it was Czech Republic’s turn to chase the affair. With England confident that victory was in their grasp, substitute Chramosta grabbed a late goal to sink England's hopes.
Moments later Pekhart made sure as he tapped home an easy goal to make sure his side finished second and England will return home.
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