Written by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20)
England Under-21s manager Aidy Boothroyd believes play should have been halted in the build-up to Germany’s winner last night at Vitality Stadium.
With the scoreline finely poised at one all, the visitors swept home in second-half stoppage time courtesy of Felix Udoukhai. But as the centre-half fired past stopper Dean Henderson, Kyle Walker-Peters appeared to be down and holding his head after a collision, leaving Udoukhai with a free strike at goal.
The defeat ended at 19 the Young Lions’ unbeaten streak in home internationals.
Boothroyd later admitted his displeasure with the manner of the goal: “It’s a bit disappointing, really, to lose a run by an official that should have in my opinion blown for a free-kick. On 90 minutes and 16 seconds there’s a head injury and the game plays on, I’m not quite sure how that happened.
“Kyle (Walker-Peters) got caught and went down. To me – it’s a head injury, it’s under-21, it’s a friendly, it stops. But the referee explained to me that it has to go out of an attacking phase. But as I say there was a serious number of passes before that.”
Despite Germany needing a last-gasp strike to clinch victory, the visitors created the majority of chances on the south coast. Borussia Dortmund star Mahmoud Dahoud blasted the opener past Henderson, before Luca Waldschmidt came close to doubling Germany’s lead soon after with an effort that cracked against the woodwork.
But England found the leveller before half-time, Dominic Solanke rifling past Florian Muller after a deflection fell kindly into the path of the Bournemouth striker.
And it took a moment of late controversy to topple the Young Lions, leaving boss Boothroyd labelling the defeat as ‘tough’.
He said: “I thought first half they were better than we were. I thought we did well to come in 1-1. I said to the players at half-time that shows your tenacity, the fact you can dig in there and get a goal to equalise.
“I thought the second half we were miles better. We got our positioning better on the press, we had better possession of the ball, we created chances. We got Phil (Foden) on the ball, which we hadn’t been able to do in the first half.
“It was really strange because I thought we got into really good positions but we didn’t really have any energy, any aggression. Normally we’re in people’s faces, winning the ball back, but for some reason in the first half we didn’t.”
The Young Lions now turn their attentions to this summer’s Under-21s European Championships in Italy, and Boothroyd believes he has already decided on the majority of his squad.
Questioned about how many of the 23-man group is already pencilled in, the national manager said: “I think probably 16 or 17. Obviously it will be dictated by injuries and form and who Gareth (Southgate) wants, because that always comes first. But we’ll support him and then look at who we’ve got.
“As you’ve seen, because of the amount of players I’ve been able to use and bring through I think we’ll be in a good place. I’ve learned a lot from the last two games about the players as individuals and who can play with who. And I think by the time the squad gets named on June 6, I think we’ll be in a good position.”