England thwarted by Portugal

Portugal Under-20 2 England Under-20 0
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England, fielding a team weakened by withdrawals enforced by clubs involved in promotion and relegation issues, were within sight of a morale-boosting draw with Portugal here in Amadora last night when they were hit by two goals late in the game.

Peter Crouch, Joleon Lescott, Bobby Zamora and Jay Bothroyd were among the experienced players to drop out, which left the manager Les Reed with a scratch side to field against opponents they will meet again in the Toulon Under-20 tournament next month.

Portugal, displaying an elegance, technique and passing ability that England never came close to matching, nevertheless had to wait until the 80th minute for their breakthrough. Even then, Peter Clarke, the England captain, was convinced that Pedro Oliveira was offside when he cunningly lifted Miguelito's shot over the substitute goalkeeper, Russell Howarth.

Clarke's tirade against the officials came to nothing but England had no complaints when Bruno Alves put the finishing touch to Miguelito's cross-shot five minutes later.

It was when Portugal were at their most impressive early on that Howarth's predecessor between the uprights, Boaz Myhill, had far less to do. He watched Gisvi's first-minute cross-shot and a similar effort form Carlos Martins both fly just wide. With Ricardo Costa also having a goal disallowed for offside, England were hanging on and creating not a semblance of a chance until the 25th minute, when James Davis volleyed just wide from Joe Keenan's deep cross. They stirred themselves after the interval, but in vain.

PORTUGAL UNDER-20 (2-3-4-1): Moreira (Benfica); Costa, Alves (both Porto); Sergio (Pacos Ferreira), Joca, Luz; Jose (all Porto), Aguiar (Benfica), Martins (Sporting), Oliveira (Porto); Gisvi (Sporting). Substitutes: Beto (Sporting) for Moreira, Santamaria (Sporting) for Costa, Nuno (Porto) for Jose, Miguelito (Rio Ave) for Aguiar, Osorio (Sporting) for Gisvi, all h-t; Kipulo (Morairanse) for Osorio, 64.

ENGLAND UNDER-20 (3-4-3): Myhill (Aston Villa); Clarke (Everton), Parnaby (Middlesbrough), Jackson (Tottenham); Halls, Noble, Ricketts (all Arsenal), Keenan (Chelsea); Davis, Webber (both Manchester Utd), McSheffrey (Coventry). Substitutes: Richardson (Leeds) for Parnaby, Howarth (York) for Myhill, Hamshaw (Sheffield Wednesday) for Ricketts, Jagielka (Sheffield Utd) for Keenan, Henry (Stoke) for McSheffrey, all h-t; Sidwell (Arsenal) for Noble, 63.

Referee: O Benquerença (Portugal).