Football: Taylor's troops on way home

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Argentina Under-21 2 England Under-21 0

ENGLAND needed only a draw here last night to qualify for the semi-finals of the Toulon Under-21 tournament - but they saved their worst performance until last and were knocked out of the event.

A bad start by England led to an Argentinian goal after only six minutes. The midfield player Juan Riquelme split the English defence with a pinpoint pass into the path of Diego Quintana, who calmly slotted the ball into the corner of the net, out of the reach of the goalkeeper Richard Wright.

England's misfortunes grew 10 minutes later when they went further behind to an Argentinian goal largely of their own making. A harmless left-wing attack appeared to be going nowhere, but England gave a corner away under no pressure. From the flag kick, Emile Heskey tried to control the ball with his chest but only succeeded in giving it to Francisco Guerrero. The striker gratefully accepted the chance and shot home from close range.

England's best effort in the first-half was a well-struck free kick by their captain, Frank Lampard, which was competently saved by Argentina's goalkeeper, Albano Bizarri.

In the second half, England's coach, Peter Taylor, used his three substitutes in order to freshen up his lacklustre forward line. Roy Allen went close when his header from a Kieron Dyer cross just looped over the bar. Allen had another chance to reduce the arrears when he burst through the Argentinian defence, but his shot across goal went wide.

Taylor said: "It was a fair result. I've got no complaints. They scored two terrific goals which gave us a mountain to climb. We might have given them too much respect. We learned something from the tournament - but tonight we were just not good enough."

ARGENTINA UNDER-21: Bizarri; Quiroga, Rivarola, Cufra, Samuel, Diaz (Guinazu, 15), Riquelme, Markic, Quintana, Scalon (Cupero, 55), Guerrero.

ENGLAND UNDER-21: Wright (Ipswich); Dyer (Ipswich), Rogers (Nottingham Forest), Howe (Bournemouth), Curtis (Manchester Utd), Elliott (Derby), Oakley (Southampton), Carragher (Liverpool), Lampard (West Ham), Heskey (Leicester), Bent (Crystal Palace). Substitutes: Allen (Tottenham) for Elliott, h-t; Kozluk (Derby) for Bent, 50; Euell (Wimbledon) for Howe, 64.

Referee: M Wegereef (Netherlands).