England U21s suffered a damaging defeat to Switzerland U21s as Aidy Boothroyd’s side started their UEFA Under-21 Euros campaign on the backfoot.
The Young Lions knew the importance of starting with a win, with tricky Group D fixtures against Portugal and Croatia to come, but England struggled badly to create opportunities against a well-drilled Swiss side.
Emile Smith Rowe was handed a debut for England’s U21 side by Boothroyd with Burnley’s Dwight McNeil deployed in a left wing back role and Tom Davies picked to play in central midfield.
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England dominated possession in the first half, but it was Switzerland who should have opened the scoring when Andi Zeqiri was played through following a loose pass by Ben Godfrey. The Brighton forward, however, couldn’t beat Aaron Ramsdale.
Callum Hudson-Odoi tested Swiss goalkeeper Anthony Racioppi with a well-struck freekick in the second half before Dan Ndoye hit the match-winner, spinning a shot over Ramsdale via a deflection off his standing foot.
Boothroyd made a number of changes, introducing Ryan Sessegnon, Curtis Jones, Eberechi Eze and Rhian Brewster off the bench, but there was to be no fightback as England’s chances of getting out of their group were dealt a blow.
TALKING POINT - Boothroyd’s side much less than sum of their parts
On individual talent alone, this should have been a comfortable victory for England. Boothroyd’s squad is packed with proven Premier League quality, yet that was far from obvious in the performance produced here. England were one-dimensional. They lacked ideas as well as tempo and intensity against an opponent content to sit back, keep things tight and strike out on the counter attack. England failed to register a single shot on target from open play, illustrating just how toothless they were.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Cedric Zesiger (Switzerland U21)
The Swiss defence must have expected a difficult afternoon such was the calibre of the attacking players England boast, but the Young Lions failed to trouble their opponents over the 90 minutes. This was largely down to the performance of Cedric Zesiger at the heart of the Switzerland defence. The Young Boys centre back repelled all that came his way and organised others around him.
England U21 - Ramsdale 7, Aarons 4, Guehi 5, Godfrey 4, Kelly 5, Davies 5, Skipp 6, Hudson-Odoi 6, Smith Rowe 4, McNeil 4, Nketiah 3. Subs - Sessegnon 4, Jones 4, Eze 5, Brewster 3.
Switzerland U21 - Racioppi 7, Lotomba 6, Bamert 8, Zesiger 8, Muheim 5, Toma 7, Domgjoni 6, Jankewitz 6, Guillemenot 6, Ndoye 8, Zeqiri 7. Subs - Imeri 7, Mambimbi 5, Ruegg 3.
17’ Should be 1-0! What a gift! Godfrey played a pass straight to the Swiss attack 25 yards out from goal, Zeqiri was played through and should have found the back of the net, but Ramsdale saves!
18’ DAVIES... just over! England come flying up the other end of the pitch after the Swiss chance with Aarons feeding Davies, but the Everton midfielder puts his shot on the roof of the net!
35’ Kelly heads wide! The corner kick delivery was a good one, Kelly got on the end of it, but he could only head wide when he probably should have tested Racioppi in the Swiss goal!
50’ Off the post! Once again England shoot themselves in the foot with a loose pass inside their own half, Switzerland find Toma free at the back post, but his shot comes back off the base of the woodwork!
64’ Hudson-Odoi freekick saved! That's the first time England have really tested Racioppi with the Swiss goalkeeper diving to his left to stop Hudson-Odoi's freekick from finding the back of the net!
77’ GOAL! England U21 0-1 Switzerland U21: The breakthrough has been broken and Switzerland have the lead! Ndoye takes the shot from the edge of the England penalty area, it picks up a deflection and loops up over Ramsdale! It might even have struck the standing foot of the forward!
England failed to register a single shot on target from open and only one shot on target from a set piece.
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