Beaten by the better side
29th Jun 2009, 19:45
Unfortunately the England U21 bid for European glory ended in defeat on Monday was they were soundly beaten 4-0 by their German counterparts, who were most certainly the better side that look to have several top class footballers coming through with one particular gem.
Things could have been so different had a header from Martin Cranie in the 1st minute from a James Milner freekick not missed the target or Theo Walcott, shortly after, made more of an opportunity, or at least passed to someone else that could.
Germany were only prevented from going ahead themselves by a defensive block from Micah Richards - a one-two between Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedina ended with Ozil's shot being blocked by the Citeh man but it was that man Ozil that slipped the ball through for Gonzalo Castro on 22 minutes and he, like in the Group B meeting earlier in the tournament, made no mistake, 1-0 Germany.
Villa's Milner and Boro's Adam Johnson were showing some good stuff but there was no real threat for England, certainly as an end product with no genuine striking option causing a threat - that was our own fault however due to suspensions...
Sebastian Boenisch and Ozil both went close with dangerous freekicks from 30 and 25-yards respectively as Germany went in at half time the worthy leaders - England were lacking in ideas so changes were needed at the break to alter this, the only change saw Michael Mancienne on for Nedum Onouha, but this was an injury replacement.
Only 3 minutes into the 2nd half and the task England were facing became even harder, Ozil's 35-yard freekick was allowed to sneak past Scott Loach to make it 2-0. The ball was moving all over the place but the Watford keeper would still be bitterely disappointed to have been beaten in the manor he was.
Still no further tactical changes were made by England with it being all too easy for the Germans, until suddenly we burst into life with Lee Cattermole almost breaking the bar with a 30-yard drive that had Manuel Neuer beaten. This saw England come to life and we started to threaten more but after good work from Milner one of the better chances could not be taken by Johnson.
The frustration of Stuart Pearce was starting to really show, we all know what a passionate man he is but this was sometimes taken to the brink and he was furious with Boenisch when he took out Milner, the German was maybe fortunate to escape with only a yellow.
Only a goal line clearance from Andreas Beck denied Cattermole again, who looked as though he was heading England back into the game but this is when you sensed it really was not going to be our day - although to be fair it had not been our best day and Germany were coasting.
When the dangerous Ozil skinned Cranie again, who had a difficult night, with the goal at his mercy somehow Sandro Wagner managed to miss from literally a yard out.
England made a change, taking off Bolton's Fabrice Muamba for Everton's Jack Rodwell immediately after that miss with Richards being thrown up top, but no sooner had this change been made the highly impressive Ozil put Wagner through again and this time he made no mistake as he put the ball through the legs of Loach for 3-0 on 79 minutes.
4-0 soon followed, having missed a sitter before his first goal Wagner added another on 84, a cracker from 20-yard that gave Loach no chance.
The outstanding Ozil was taken off at the end to get the kind of ovation that he deserved, watch out for this guy though as he looks like he is going to be a superstar, and despite another sub Craig Gardner going close at the death for England that was that.
Without a shadow of a doubt the better side won, the Germans look to have plenty of talent coming through but the Young Lions should have learned something from this, even if it was a harsh lesson mostly in discipline as a lack of this meant suspensions to key personnel and that did not help.
You can view the highlights of the game, should you wish, on this sky sports video...
Stuart Pearce is one of the most passionate and patriotic Englishmen you will find, sometimes, like Monday showed at times he gets too into it but this defeat really hurt him and it is going to stay with him for the next 2-years...
He says that he wants to keep that hurt with him, as he wants it to be kept with those that will be back for the next U21 Championships in 2-years time as he will be there as he confirmed that a new deal has been signed. Pearce still believed that England were good enough to have won the tournament but conceded Germany were the better side on the night. See Pearce's thoughts on this, and more, in this sky sports video...
PLAY UP POMPEY & THE YOUNG LIONS!