Late lapses cost England Under-21s

England Under-21s conceded two late goals as Slovenia fought back to snatch a 2-2 draw in their friendly in Maribor.

An Eddie Nketiah penalty and Sam Surridge strike looked to have put Aidy Boothroyd’s men on course for a comfortable win in preparation for next Tuesday’s UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifier against Austria.

But sloppiness at the back allowed Dejan Petrovic to pull one back eight minutes from time and Aaraon Ramsdale then failed to hold Jan Pisek’s deflected free-kick in injury time.

That undid a lot of good work from England, who had completely dominated before the game became scrappy and occasionally ill-tempered in the second half.

Phil Foden shot narrowly over for England early on and Callum-Hudson Odoi had a free-kick blocked before Nketiah opened the scoring, calmly sending Ziga Frelih the wrong way, after 39 minutes. The Leeds loanee had won the spot-kick himself when he was bundled over by Zan Zaletel after a clever turn.

Slovenia did not muster a shot in the first half but went close after the break as Jan Mlakar headed over from a corner.

The complexion of the game changed amid a host of substitutions and tempers boiled over after Surridge clipped Frelih attempting to reach a cross. David Zec pushed him over in retaliation and a number of players joined in the commotion.

Surridge made a bigger impression in the 70th minute when he pounced for England’s second after a header from Ben Wilmot had hit a post.

That seemed to have put the game beyond reach but, after all England’s good work, they had a moment to forget eight minutes from time.

Tomi Horvat pounced on a poor pass from goalkeeper Ramsdale and squared for Petrovic to finish.

Slovenia applied further pressure in the closing minutes and it paid off when Pisek’s free-kick found its way through the wall and Ramsdale could not keep it out.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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