A poor performance from England saw them finish bottom of Group B at the U21 European Championships. England started well and had a great chance following a through-ball from Harry Kane to Danny Ings, but Ings could only find the side-netting. However, Italy came into the game and scored through Belotti in the 25th minute, who volleyed home a ball at full stretch. Things rapidly got worse for England 2 minutes later when Criestig ran unopposed and gave the ball to Benassi; his shot deflected off Gibson and went in.
The second half continued with England struggling to consistently find players with passes or put sustained pressure on the Italian defence. Italy furthered their lead in the 72nd minute, when a throw-in was hooked on and Benassi scored his second of the game with a free header from 10 yards out that crept in at the far post. Redmond grabbed a consolation goal through Nathan Redmond in stoppage time with a fierce drive from the edge of the area.
England started well, but once Italy came into the game, they were by far the better team and the result was fully deserved. England’s policy of not selecting some players to go the U21 Championships is once again being debated. In my opinion, England should pick their strongest available squad for the Championships and give the players exposure to tournament football; the aim of U21 football is to prepare players for international football and act as a pathway, so it is important that players get selected where possible.