England under-21 crash to defeat

Pearce Under-21 England managerEngland under-21’s crashed to their first defeat of the European Championships qualifying round on Monday night, as they relinquished a 1-0 lead away to Belgium to ultimately lose 2-1.

Martin Kelly had given the visitors the lead after 14 minutes, and Stuart Pearce’s side went into the interval a goal to the good. However second half strikes from Jens Naessens and Omar El Kaddouri gave the Belgians three points.

The negative result is the team’s first defeat of the campaign, and Pearce was disappointed with the second half showing, especially losing the decisive goal in injury time.

“We didn’t have a cutting edge or real devilment about our play to win the game,” Pearce told Sky Sports.

“I think it’s a learning curve for our young players. Once you get into international football away from home, you take your point and you move on.

“We gifted them the winning goal, which is disappointing from our point of view, but we have to make sure we learn from this game and take it forward.

“We play Belgium again in February and have to reverse the result against them,” he stated.

Despite England going into the game with a 100 per cent record, Pearce admits his team did not deserve to beat their Belgian opponents.

“We got bogged down a bit. Some of my key players that have the ability to go past one or two of theirs, I don’t think did it on the evening.

“We sat off and let them compete, they defended well behind the ball, defended very deep and made it very difficult.

“We learn by it, they are young players and the important thing is we go away from this and when we get them back together again and have a look at this game, see where we can improve.

“They are very, very disappointed – there’s a real genuine group of players here now. All you can do is move on.

“We’re on 12 points from five games now and have to make sure we win at least probably two more matches to get out of this group,” he concluded.

By Gareth McKnight

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