Captain Thomas Thorpe believes a failure to take their chances cost England dear as they bowed out of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship against Greece.
Noel Blake's team played for 75 minutes against ten men in their semi-final in Tallinn, Greece losing goalkeeper Stefanos Kapino to a red card in the final minute of the first half having been penalised for bringing down Benik Afobe. By then, however, England were behind to a Mavroudis Bougaidis header and when substitute goalkeeper Sokratis Dioudis came on to block Robert Hall's penalty with his first touch, it summed up their evening.
"It was a tough game but we believed we worked hard enough," Thorpe told UEFA.com. "
We had a lot of the possession and created some very good chances. The problem was the final product, trying to convert those chances into goals. Greece worked extremely hard and when they went down to ten men their work-rate increased even further. They were pressing the ball a lot and it was difficult to play through them."
England did draw level early in the second half through Afobe's close-range header but were unable to add to that as the match moved into extra time. Blake's charges continued to enjoy the greater possession and outscored their opponents in terms of chances – but it was Greece who go the decisive breakthrough when Charalambos Lykogiannis lobbed Sam Johnstone 12 minutes from time. "We all stuck together and tried to play our way through to the final but it wasn't to be and we couldn't finish things off," Thorpe said.
Despite his obvious disappointment at England's exit, the Manchester United FC defender, who was pushed forward into midfield for the semi-final, feels there are plenty of positives to be taken from their time in Estonia. "It's been a good tournament and we've all enjoyed it," he added. "Unfortunately our final memoires will be the loss here. Hopefully we'll pick ourselves up and will be able to get back next season.
"After the match we spoke about how we played as a team and the good team spirit in the group," said Thorpe, whose side had been unbeaten in their first 12 matches of the season before their defeat by Greece and have the considerable consolation of a place in next year's FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey to look forward to. "We all hope to push up to the next level with the England Under-20s."
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