(BBC) England were denied a place in the European Under-21 Championship final as they lost a gripping semi-final against Germany on penalties yesterday.
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).
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.
It happened at Italia ‘90, when Chris Waddle and Stuart Pearce faltered from the spot, and at Euro ‘96, when Gareth Southgate’s penalty was saved.
Yesterday, 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.
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.