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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 September, 2003, 21:19 GMT 22:19 UK
England U21s crash out
Helder Postiga deflects in the winner with the aid of his hand
England U21 1-2 Portugal U21

England's Under-21s suffered European Championship heartbreak as David Platt's side crashed out of the tournament in highly-controversial circumstances.

Platt's players were heading for a deserved draw against Portugal at Goodison Park as they fought to salvage their qualifying hopes for next summer's finals.

But with 11 minutes remaining, Tottenham's 6.25m summer recruit Helder Postiga used his hand to steer a Hugo Viana free-kick beyond stand-in keeper Lee Grant.

Earlier, Ricardo Quaresma had given Portugal the lead before Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton capped a fine display by stabbing home an equaliser.

Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi, named man-of-the- match, called the referee's failure to spot Postiga's use of the hand as "scandalous."

"I couldn't believe some of the decisions the referee was making," he said. "I think the way he handled the game was very poor.

"To get a decision like that against us is scandalous. It has cost us the chance to go to the Championships."

Ricardo Quaresma celebrates scoring Portugal's opener
Quaresma celebrates Portugal's opener
Fury erupted among the England players, who confronted Greek referee Athanassios Briakos, while Platt was outraged after watching the replay on the giant screen in one corner of the ground.

His side can not now finish in the top two and make the play-offs, rendering their final game in Turkey next month meaningless.

England lost Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland in the warm-up after he suffered a groin problem, and his replacement Grant was at fault for Portugal's opener.

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo won a free-kick after his nifty footwork proved too much for Chelsea full-back Glen Johnson, and Grant could only help Quaresma's curling effort into the net.

Quaresma, poached by Barcelona in the summer, almost made it two with a first-time effort from a sharp angle which Grant beat away.

The keeper then tipped away a curling Postiga shot from the edge of the area before England levelled nine minutes before the break.

Paul Konchesky lofted a free-kick into the area for Ameobi to flick towards Jeffers, back at Goodison Park ahead of his second Everton debut.

In attempting to carve out a shooting chance, Jeffers saw the ball fall to Barton, whose effort trickled home off the inside off the right-hand post.

The second half belonged entirely to England with David Prutton and Barton going close before Ameobi and Jeffers combined to force another save from Portugese keeper Moreira.

Johnson then elected to go for glory with his two strikers better placed, and Jeffers' frustration increased as he was booked for a challenge on Moreira.

Platt was then involved with a war of words on the touchline with Portuguese counterpart Jose Pratas Romao as Postiga's winner saw tempers flare.


England U21: Grant, Jagielka, Dawson, Clarke, Konchesky, Johnson, Prutton, Barton, Barry, Jeffers, Ameobi.
Subs: Hibbert, Sidwell, Tonge, Wright-Phillips, Defoe, Zamora, Burch.

Portugal U21: Moreira, Joao Paulo, Ricardo Costa, Bruno Alves, Bosingwa, Tiago, Viana, Hugo Luz, Quaresma, Postiga, Ronaldo.
Subs: Bruno Vale, Mario Sergio, Santamaria, Raul Meireles, Candido Costa, Lourenco, Pedro Neves.

Referee: Athanassios Briakos (Greece)






WATCH AND LISTEN
England U21 boss David Platt
"We were unlucky not to get the second goal"


BBC Five Live's David Oates
"Hopefully this isn't a sign of things to come"




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