England U-21’s collapse late again in defeat to Romania

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A wild final 15 minutes saw Romania come out on top of England at the U-21 Euros, sealing a disappointing end to their tournament in the group stage after just two matches.

The game was 0-0 through the first half as England looked spotty and Romania struggled to get past Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson. Questions will be asked of England boss Andy Boothroyd who controversially chose to bench sparkling Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden and the team appeared toothless without him.

Foden came on in the 57th minute but it remained scoreless until the 76th minute when it all kicked off with a bang. Inter youth product and Palermo striker George Puscas struck from the penalty spot after Everton youth product Jonjoe Kenny tripped Romanian substitute Florinel Coman in the area.

That lit the fuse and the game exploded. Leicester City’s Demari Gray equalized three minutes later off a set-piece situation, but Romania would go in front again via Ianis Hagi, son of the great Gheorghe Hagi, who deposited a low piledriver for the lead with five minutes to go, although the game was far from over. Just a minute later Tammy Abraham collected a cross onto his chest and produced a fine cut finish for another England equalizer at 2-2.

That is where England collapsed and Coman became a hero. Having already created one chance with earning the earlier penalty, the Steaua Bucuresti winger bagged a late brace, first striking on a gift from Henderson on a speculative shot from distance that squirted underneath the goalkeeper. The second was far more deserving of a late winner, a glittering volley on the bounce from well outside the box that rose and dipped into the top-left corner.

The late flop is the second of the tournament for England and ultimately becomes their legacy for the summer. They collapsed late in a 2-1 defeat to France in their group stage opener, seeing Crystal Palace full-back and rumored Manchester United target Aaron Wan-Bissaka turn home an unlikely own-goal in the 95th minute.

Boothroyd, who signed a contract extension just this summer immediately prior to the tournament, was criticized heavily for his team selection, most notably for Foden’s initial absence but also for his handling of the 90 minutes. He brought Ryan Sessegnon off the bench at halftime, only for the Fulham youngster to pull up injured 12 minutes later, requiring a substitute himself in a move that finally saw Foden enter the fray. For a team that won eight matches in qualifying for the competition, the face-first stagger marks a downright embarrassing result.

England is eliminated no matter the rest of the group stage results, given the best they can do is finish level with France who beat them head-to-head. They still have a chance to save face as they take on Croatia in their final group stage match despite their fate already sealed. Croatia was thumped in its first game against Romania 4-1 and takes on France later today needing a win to keep them a live. Should Croatia lose that, the final group stage match between the two sides would be nothing more than a consolation prize.