As IF an early exit was not bad enough, England Under-21s suffered further embarrassment last night as European Championship hosts Israel beat Stuart Pearce’s side 1-0 and sent them home without a point.
Having arrived on a run of nine successive wins without conceding, the tournament has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. The 1-0 opening day defeat by Italy was labelled “awful” by Pearce, who then saw his side suffer a shock 3-1 loss to Norway. Last night, the Israelis showed much more drive, determination and appetite than an insipid England side, who deservedly went behind to a Ofir Krieff goal with ten minutes left.
Captain Nir Biton, a former Manchester City trialist, played the ball for Fulham’s Omri Altman to lay off to Krieff, who lashed home a low effort from 20 yards. The strike proved decisive as Israel ran out victors at the Teddy Stadium, sending England home with their worst ever record at an under-21 tournament and leaving Pearce’s position more precarious than ever.
Pearce later lambasted his players, saying: “I think, basically, if you don’t turn up and work hard enough in any given tournament, you won’t get any success and that was typical of today and probably the two games prior to it,” Pearce said.
“I honestly don’t believe I should be here answering questions on behalf of them.
“They should be here answering questions on why their performances were so poor, to be honest with you.
“I don’t think it’s my responsibility at this stage to answer for a performance as bad as that.
“This is the business end of the tournament and we got what we deserved. I don’t think we deserved to win a game. Credit to the Israelis tonight, they deserved to beat us.”