The England Under-20s manager, Gareth Southgate, saluted the quality of rising star James Ward-Prowse despite Brazil overcoming his side 2-1 on Monday night to all but seal their place in the prestigious final in Toulon.
Southampton’s Ward-Prowse produced a classy free-kick from just outside the box to beat Brazil goalkeeper Marcos with nine minutes left in the south of France. Yet despite the midfielder’s excellence – and similar technique to David Beckham during his pomp – Southgate saw his side’s hopes of winning the tournament effectively ended by the unbeaten Brazilians, who now need just a point against Qatar to seal their spot in Sunday’s final.
Southgate said: “Ironically, when you play Brazil people would expect them to come up with a moment of brilliance, but we do that. It was not a surprise because everything he does is top-drawer.
“You score goals like that because of professionalism and hours of practice.”
Goals in each half from Alisson and Lucas Silva condemned England to their first loss as Southgate’s side now face a key game with South Korea tomorrow to try to finish second in Group B.
Alisson put the South Americans ahead after eight minutes, capitalising on a mistake by England’s goalkeeper Jack Butland. Alisson worked a neat one-two with striker Thalles and, when Butland failed to gather, tapped in.
England came back as Nathan Redmond tested Marcos with a long-range shot. But, as in the first half, England conceded again eight minutes after the break.
Thalles’ pass to Silva deceived Liam Moore and he took the ball inside Luke Garbutt and then out before producing a smart finish into the bottom corner.
Ward-Prowse’s curling effort on 81 minutes offered hope but it was too late. He said: “It was nice to score, but we wanted to win the game and have a chance of winning the tournament.”
Southgate added: “Unfortunately, we gave away two goals uncharacteristic of us. Losing is not a feeling we like but in terms of experience we got what we wanted. Until you live through playing one of the best teams you don’t realise how good you can be. We’ve nothing to fear moving forward.”