FOR THE third time in recent history, an England football side went out at the semi-final stage of a major tournament, to Germany on penalties, whilst Spain cruised through to the final.
Aidy Boothroyd’s England were denied a place in the European Under-21 Championship final as they lost a gripping semi-final against Germany on penalties.
Julian Pollersbeck saved Nathan Redmond’s spot-kick as the Germans edged through in Tychy, Poland.
England’s Young Lions had fallen behind when Davie Selke headed home, but Demarai Gray levelled the scores.
Tammy Abraham made it 2-1 to England with a tap-in but Felix Platte’s header took the game to extra time.
In the penalty shoot out, Jordan Pickford made a fine save to deny Gerhardt, but with the scores at 3-3, Nathan Redmond had to score but Pollersbeck flung himself across his line to save.
The same thing happened at the 1990 World Cup in Italy when Chris Waddle and Stuart Pearce faltered from the spot, and at the 1996 European Championship at Wembley, when Gareth Southgate’s penalty was saved.
On Tuesday, Boothroyd’s team were 20 minutes from a place in the final when Platte equalised following a corner.
In an action-packed game, Salke had put the Germans ahead when he met Jermey Toljan’s cross, before Leicester’s Gray was well placed to equalise after Germany failed to deal with Ward-Prowse’s corner.
Will Hughes teed up Abraham to give England the lead and both teams missed chances to secure victory in extra time.
Disappointed Under 21 boss Aidy Boothroyd, told the BBC, “We’re absolutely gutted to go out in the way that we did.”
“We might not have been at our best for long periods but we showed a real British bulldog spirit,” he said.
“It’s been a long journey. The tournament has been fantastic. I’m sure there will be future senior players in this team.”
On a night of contrasting fortunes, Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez scored a hat-trick as Spain beat Italy to set up a European Under-21 Championship final with Germany
The 22-year-old put Spain ahead with a finish from just inside the box, but Italy equalised through Federico Bernardeschi’s deflected shot despite having Roberto Gagliardini sent off.
Saul restored Spain’s lead with a fantastic 30-yard drive three minutes later, and completed his treble by turning in first time from Real Madrid winger Marco Asensio’s low cross.