England once again fell short at a major tournament after Gareth Southgate’s side capitulated against Italy tonight, writes James Shield.
The result condemned the Young Lions to their third successive exit at the group stages of the European under-21 Championship.
England’s destiny was in their own hands after a dramatic win over Sweden but it proved a false dawn as the Azzurrini triumphed 3-1.
Questions will be asked of Southgate and his selections after finishing bottom of Group B although few expect the head coach to pay with his job like predecessor Stuart Pearce.
Unlike the unmitigated disaster of Israel two years ago, this tournament has been more a case of what could have been; epitomised by Danny Ings and Harry Kane going close before defensive hesitancy allowed Italy to take the lead.
Within two minutes of Andrea Belotti impressively turning home against the run of play, Luigi Di Biagio’s side were celebrating a second courtesy of Marco Benassi’s deflected strike
Benassi pounced again with a fine header before Nathan Redmond’s late consolation.