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England Under-21s get off to losing start in Euro 2015.

Byline: Philip Tallentire in the Czech Republic philip.tallentire@trinitymirror.com

ENGLAND'S bid to win the Under-21 European Championships got off to the worst possible start in the Czech Republic last night with Portugal winning a disappointing Group B clash 1-0. Head coach Gareth Southgate included Ben Gibson in his starting XI, but the Boro centreback and his fellow defenders endured a tough night in Uherske Hradiste, struggling to cope with the lively opposition strikers. Skipper Jack Butland's first save of the match, however, was from one of his own players.

Defender Liam Moore directed a fine right-wing cross from Ricardo Esgaio towards his own goal in the eighth minute, but the England goalie made a fine one-handed stop.

Southgate's side had their first genuine attempt on goal three minutes later when Carl Jenkinson delivered a low cross into Nathan Redmond, who took a touch before lashing a shot straight at keeper Jose Sa.

Portugal then stepped up a gear and sloppy England struggled to cope, wastefully squandering possession in their own half time and again.

Just before the quarter hour mark, impressive No10 Bernardo Silva ended a mazy dribble with a low shot that Butland managed to smother. Then, in the 19th minute, play switched to the other end of the pitch but Jesse Lingard's powerful shot from distance flashed over the crossbar.

Playing up front on his own, Harry Kane struggled to make an impact but, in the 34th minute, the in-form Spurs striker unleashed a stunning 20-yard shot on the turn that the keeper did well to push wide at full stretch. Seconds later he cut inside from the left before belting a decent shot narrowly wide of the near post.

Just before half-time, Lingard almost snatched the lead for England when he picked up the ball to the left of goal, took two touches and curled in a sweet shot that missed its intended target by a matter of a few inches. Portugal looked technically superior but England were creating the better chances, and Redmond tested Jose Sa with a stinging shot early in the second half but the keeper managed to clear at the second time of asking. Gibson was unlucky to be booked by the overly-fussy referee in the 49th minute for a innocuous looking challenge on Ricardo. And England's night went from bad to worse in the 57th minute when Joao Mario fired home after Bernando Silva's shot bounced off Butland's right-hand post. Sweden beat Italy 2-1 in the day's other Group B fixture.

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TEAMS England (4-2-3-1): Butland (captain); Jenkinson, Moore, Gibson, Garbutt; Ward-Prowse, Chalobah; Redmond, Carroll, Lingard; Kane. Subs: Bettinelli, Bond, Forster-Caskey, Pritchard, Keane, Ings, Hughes, Chambers, Targett, Loftus-Cheek.

Portugal (4-1-2-1-2): Jose Sa; Esgaio, Ilori, Paulo Oliveira, Guerreiro; Carvalho; Sergio Oliveira, Mario; Bernardo Silva; Cavaleiro, Ricardo. Subs: Varela, Fernandes, Rafa Silva, Paciencia, Medeiros, Cancelo, Figueiredo, Venancio, Neves, Mane, Horta, Toze.

CAPTION(S):

England's Harry |Kane looks dejected after losing to Portugal last night in the Czech Republic, left, and in action, right. Above, England's team from least night including Boro's Ben Gibson CARL RECINE / ACTION IMAGES
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EXCZ
Date:Jun 19, 2015
Words:560
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