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England U21 Manager Howard Wilkinson
"My players' careers have been improved by playing in this tournament"
 real 28k

Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 20:20 GMT 21:20 UK
England youngsters sent home early
Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard (centre) enjoys some rare possession
England U21 0-2 Slovakia U21

Szilard Nemeth and Peter Babnic scored the goals which confirmed England's exit from the European under 21 tournament.

Both goals came in the second half and coach Howard Wilkinson can have few complaints about the scoreline, with his side outplayed by their more technical opponents.

England needed a win to ensure a place in the the third/fourth place play-off, with an outside chance of making the final if Italy slipped up against Turkey.

But the Italians had little trouble beating the Group B whipping boys and it will be Slovakia, the host nation, who will contest the play-off.

Struggled

England struggled to contain their opponents during the first half, with the back three of Ledley King, Jamie Carragher and Luke Young overworked.

Slovakian forward Nemeth should have given his side the lead just before the half hour, picked out in the penalty area by Petra, only to slice his shot yards wide of Nicky Weaver in the England goal.

Shortly after, Carl Cort was the unlikely culprit who prevented England from nudging ahead, getting in the way of Frank Lampard's goalbound shot after Danny Mills' cross had caused havoc in the Slovakian penalty area.

Despite a good start to the second half, England went behind when a sloppy ball from Luke Young fell into the path of Babnic, who dribbled the ball past Carragher and hit a shot which deflected off King and past the wrongfooted Weaver.

Appalling

England could have responded within minutes, Cort finding Francis Jeffers free ten yards out, but the Everton striker's touch was appalling and when the ball fell to Lee Hendrie, the Aston Villa midfielder's weak left footed shot was easily cleared off the line.

Almost immediately, indecision between Carragher and King allowed Nemeth to race forward and slot the ball calmly past Weaver.

Lampard came close to scoring a consolation goal in the last minute of normal time, but his long range shot was beaten away by Contonflasky.

England U21: Weaver, Young, Carragher, King, Mills, Dunn, Lampard, Murphy, Harley, Cort, Jeffers. Subs: Robinson, Gardner, Jansen, Hendrie, Carrick, Thompson, Chadwick, Campbell.

Slovakia U21: Contoflasky, Cisovsky, Lerant, Hlinka, Hrncar, Barcik, Czinege, Petra, Gresko, Nemeth, Babnic. Subs: Bartalsky, Sedlak, Supka, Meszaros, Mintal, Vyskoc, Pulen.

Referee: Herbert Fandel (Germany)

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See also:

30 May 00 | England
Classy young guns crush Turks
26 May 00 | England
England U21s take a knock
01 Jun 00 | England
Ferdinand vows to knuckle down
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