England were denied a place in the European Under-21 Championship final as they lost a gripping semi-final against Germany on penalties.
Julian Pollersbeck saved Nathan Redmond’s spot-kick as the Germans edged through in Tychy, Poland.
Aidy Boothroyd’s Young Lions had fallen behind when Davie Selke headed home, but Demarai Gray levelled the scores.
Tammy Abraham made it 2-1 to England with a tap-in but Felix Platte’s header took the game to extra time.
Germany will face Spain – who beat Italy 3-1 – in Friday’s final in Krakow (19:45 BST).
How the penalty shootout was won
- 0-1: Maximilian Arnold beats the diving Jordan Pickford, shooting down the middle.
- 1-1: Lewis Baker sends Julian Pollersbeck the wrong way.
- 1-1: Pickford produces a fine diving stop to keep out Yannick Gerhardt.
- 1-1: Tammy Abraham is denied by an equally fine save by Pollersbeck.
- 1-2: Pickford guesses the right way but Maximilian Philipp’s kick is too powerful.
- 2-2: Ben Chilwell keeps his composure to send the keeper the wrong way.
- 2-3: Max Meyer nudges the Germans ahead with a textbook penalty.
- 3-3: James Ward-Prowse fires into the roof of the net.
- 3-4: Substitute Nadiem Amiri holds his nerve to pile the pressure on England.
- 3-4: Nathan Redmond has to score but Pollersbeck flings himself across his line to save.
Same old story for England
Not for the first time, an England team is left to reflect on what might have been after losing a semi-final against Germany on penalties.
On Tuesday, Boothroyd’s team were 20 minutes from a place in the final when Platte equalised following a corner.
In an action-packed game, Salke had put the Germans ahead when he met Jermey Toljan’s cross, before Leicester’s Gray was well placed to equalise after Germany failed to deal with Ward-Prowse’s corner.
Will Hughes teed up Abraham to give England the lead and both teams missed chances to secure victory in extra time.
Positives for Young Lions
Despite this result, the tournament has provided Boothroyd with plenty of positives for the future.
England drew with Sweden before beating Slovakia and host nation Poland to win their group and set up the semi-final with Germany.
This time last year, English football was reeling after the senior team were humiliated and humbled by Iceland at Euro 2016.
The date – 27 June 2016 – will always be a haunting reminder of arguably England’s worst-ever defeat.
One year later, the Football Association can reflect on genuine shoots of recovery, with the under-17s reaching their Euro finals and the under-20s winning the World Cup in South Korea.
‘A heroic effort’
Former England captain Terry Butcher on BBC Radio 5 live
What a heroic effort from all these England players. They matched Germany – the application and spirit has been magnificent throughout this competition.
Great guts and spirit – they’ve carried the badge and the jersey, and they’ve made everyone proud.
England Under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd:
We’re absolutely gutted to go out in the way that we did.
We might not have been at our best for long periods but we showed a real British bulldog spirit.
We could have nicked it but that’s football. We’ve practised, practised and practised penalties but the keeper has made two good saves.
It was a real effort – a real backs against the wall job at times.
It’s been a long journey. The tournament has been fantastic. I’m sure there will be future senior players in this team.