England frustrated by theatrical rivals

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The Independent Online
Portual Under-21 2 England Under-21 0

Paul Gerrard, the Oldham goalkeeper and England captain, surveyed the wreckage of his team's European Under-21 Championship hopes and admitted they had learned some painful lessons.

This convincing defeat at the hands of the talented but theatrical Portuguese in Santa Maria de Lamas means Dave Sexton's side have to rely on their conquerors to slip up if they are to make the knockout stages.

A bad night was made even worse with Bolton's Alan Thompson was sent off for violent conduct - stepping back onto midfielder Jose Calado - a clash which the Benfica man milked for all it was worth.

But Gerrard, accepting the blame for the second of Sporting Lisbon striker Dani's double - a 25-yarder that rolled under his dive - conceded his team-mates had allowed themselves to be frustrated by Portugal's disruptive tactics. "Ray Wilkins told us before the start that they'd go down like flies and that we shouldn't get drawn into it, so we knew what they were going to do," Gerrard said.

While he did allow the home side to escape with a ticking off for the sort of tackles that earned Robbie Elliott, Phil Neville and Chris Bart- Williams bookings, Kim Nielsen, the Danish referee, was happy to let the Portuguese roll around in mock-agony while play went on about them.

Sexton did not complain about Thompson's dismissal, which is likely to mean a four-match ban, while Bart-Williams, booked for the second time in the group, will miss the final game against Austria in November.

Goals: Dani (1-0) 23; Dani (2-0) 37.

PORTUGAL: S Nuno, Andrade, Rui, Litos (Poejo, 65), Beto, Peixe, Dominguez (Martins, 86), Calado, G Nuno, Vivigal, Dani (Kenedy, 75).

ENGLAND: Gerrard (Oldham), P Neville (Manchester Utd), Gordon (Crystal Palace), Beckham (Manchester Utd), Scimeca (Aston Villa), Elliott (Newcastle), Butt (Manchester Utd), Thompson (Bolton), Fowler (Liverpool), Shipperley (Southampton), Sinclair (Queen's Park Rangers). Substitute used: Bart- Williams (Nottingham Forest) for Butt, 46.

Referee: K Nielsen (Denmark).

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