England suffered a heartbreak at the opening match of U21 against France after an own goal by Aaron Wan-Bissaka sealed an unlikely win for Les Bleus after a break.
The Young Lions had been right in Cesena for a thrilling clash, after a wonderful strike by Phil Foden had sparked the Touchpaper for a conclusion you could not ignore.
- UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals
- Tuesday, June 18, 2019
- Cesena, Italy
- Live on Sky Sports
After a first half, when Aidy Boothroyd's team had plenty of chances and France missed a penalty, the game exploded after the break when Foden scored his first goal in the U21 on a good note.
But after England had been reduced to ten men after a VAR-tested opening game against Hamza Choudhury and France missed a penalty, it took two goals in the final minutes to play the game in favor of France.
It all started so differently, with an electric opening from England that has spent the first 15 minutes firmly on the forefoot and feels that they should then have a lead.
First Ryan Sessegnon jumped into the offside trap to break into the box. When French defender Ibrahima Konaté scored a pass over the gate, he was fortunate not to score an own goal when his shot hit the post and went to safety.
Dominic Solanke then deflected a shot from close range after Demarai Gray's teasing flank from the left had picked him out in the room.
But it was France, who had the best chance of the first half, when they got a penalty in the 25th minute. Jake Clarke-Salter was heavily condemned for handling the ball from close range on Mousa Dembele's head.
However, there was justice for the Young Lions as keeper Dean Henderson had guessed the right to fend off a nice shot and deflect Dembele's penalty.
Henderson thwarted Dembele ten minutes later when the former Fulham and Celtic striker fired a shot, but the Manchester United striker was back on par.
Gray then had two own chances before the break when he was clearly cleared by Jay Dasilva's diagonal long pass to shoot a fierce right foot into the side net and then shot away from the edge of a crowded box.
However, the English goal fell less than ten minutes after the restart, and it was a wonderful moment for Foden. He picked up the ball in the left channel and apparently shot in the narrowest space inside and on the box, the ball barely left the end of his toe.
He hit two blue jerseys at the edge of the box and quickly slid the ball back to the left before hitting a low shot over the goal, French goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni snuggling into the lower corner.
Five minutes later England thought they had doubled their lead when Solanke came from the left to Sessegnon to tap home, but a side flag was hoisted to refuse him, which was a crucial moment in the competition.
Within moments, France had collapsed on the other end and Choudhury's late challenge against Jonathan Bamba in the region left the referee with no choice but to give him a second penalty.
To make matters worse, after an initial booking for Choudhury when looking at the replay of the referee, the initial caution of the man from Leicester City was exchanged for a red card.
Houssem Aouar took over Dembele's prosecution, and while Henderson could not get away from it this time, his effort plummeted back from the post to unseat the Young Lions.
France began looking for more men to equalize, and Henderson had to save wisely to shoot Jonathan Ikone's shot over the crossbar as the game progressed to the finals.
However, he was unable to stop Icon 89 in the 89th minute when he was scored again after the same maneuver and drilled a low left foot into the bottom corner to level France.
And it was Icon, who was in the middle of stoppage time when his volley shot awkwardly to the goal, where Wan-Bissaka's attempt to clear, unfortunately ended with a cruel defeat on the roof of his own network Young Lions.
England have a chance to bounce back on Friday night when they play Romania in the second group game.
Take a look at our Opta Match Center statistics from the game.
England1 Dean Henderson (Manchester United), 2 Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 3 Jay Dasilva, 4 Jake Clarke-Salter, 5 Fikayo Tomori, 7 Demarai Gray, Leicester City , 8 James Maddison (Leicester City), 9 Dominic Solanke, 10 Phil Foden, 11 Ryan Sessegnon, 16 Hamza Choudhury, Leicester City.
Replacement: 18 Mason Mount (Chelsea) for Solanke 71, 19 Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) for Sessegnon 75, 23 Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) for Gray 75
Do not use replacementd: 6 Kieran Dowell (Everton), 12 Jonjoe Kenny (Everton), 13 Angus Gunn (Southampton), 14 Lloyd Kelly (AFC Bournemouth), 15 Ezri Konsa (Brentford), 17 Harvey Barnes (Leicester City), 20 Morgan Gibbs White (Wolves), 21 Reiss Nelson (Arsenal), 22 Freddie Woodman (Newcastle United)
Head coach: Aidy Boothroyd
Gates: Phil Foden 54
Red card: Choudhury 63
France: Paul Bernardoni, Colin Dagba, Fode Ballo-Touré, Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate, Jonathan Ikone, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, Houssem Aouar, Lucas Tousart (c), Moussa Dembele, Jonathan Bamba
Replacement: Olivier Ntcham for Bamba 66, Philippe Mateta for Tousart 73, Marcus Thuram for Aouar 82
Unused substitutes: Amian Kelvin, Guendouzi Matteo, Sissoko Ibrahima, Prevot Maxence, Larsonneur Gautier, Castillo Romain, Sarr Malang, Niakhat Moussa, Caci Anthony
Head coach: Sylvain Ripoll
Gates: Jonathan Icon 89, Aaron Wan-Bissaka 90 + 5 OG