England MU18s 2-3 Netherlands
Impressive goals from Sonny Perkins and Samuel Mather were not enough to guide England MU18s to victory as they suffered a 3-2 defeat to the Netherlands.
The Young Lions had taken the lead midway through the first half through Perkins but then goals from the dangerous Jamal Gonzaga and Ernest Poku early in the second period meant the Dutch were in the driving seat.
Manchester United winger Mather equalised with a stunning strike but Iggy Houden completed an evening of impressive goals to give the Dutch victory in this opening match of the Pinatar Tournament in Spain.
England MU18s are one of four teams competing in the mini competition at the Pinatar Arena and Ryan Garry’s side will now take on Belgium on Saturday and Portugal on Monday.
Netherlands had the chance to take the lead after just seven minutes when Nottingham Forest defender James Clarridge was penalised for bringing down Gonzaga in the penalty box. However, Dutch captain Livano Comenencia sent his spot kick over the bar.
England then went close to scoring the first goal midway through the half when a slick passing move and then run and through ball from Daniel Gore released Birmingham City’s George Hall but his shot was well saved by Manchester City goalkeeper Mikki van Sas.
The Young Lions did take the advantage soon after though, when a neat one-two with with Gore allowed Perkins to slot home past van Sas at his near post.
The half-time break was extended due to an issue with the floodlights and when play did resume, England suffered a double blow inside the opening six minutes of the restart.
First, some patient build up from the Dutch ended with Gonzaga finding the far top corner from a tight angle with an impressive strike.
And then Netherlands took the lead on 51 minutes when Gonzaga teed up Poku and he was left with a simple finish.
England regained parity just after the hour mark though and in stunning fashion. Mather picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and then after dribbling forward and cutting onto his right foot, the Manchester United winger sent a brilliant strike into the top corner from just outside the area.
But it was Netherlands who were to secure victory and once again it was via a superb finish. England were unable to clear a cross from the left and Houben brought down the ball with a neat touch and then swivelled to fire into the top corner from inside the area.
Next up for England MU18s is Belgium on Saturday, which will again kick off at 6.30pm local time (5.30pm UK time) and can be watched live here.
England: 21 James Beadle (Charlton Athletic), 2 Rico Lewis (Manchester City), 3 Harvey Araujo (Fulham), 4 Ben Nelson (Leicester City), 5 James Clarridge (Nottingham Forest), 6 Samuel Braybrooke (Leicester City), 7 Sonny Perkins (West Ham United), 8 George Hall (Birmingham City), 9 Divin Mubama (West Ham United), 10 Daniel Gore (Manchester United), 11 Samuel Mather (Manchester United)
Substitutes: 12 Brooke Norton-Cuffy (Arsenal) for Araujo 75, 18 Lewis Hall (Chelsea) for Gore 75, 22 Tommy Simkin (Stoke City) for Beadle 75, 14 Terence Miles (Liverpool) for Nelson 79, 19 Victor Akinwale (Crystal Palace) for Mather 89, 17 Michael Olakigbe (Fulham) for Mubama 89
Substitutes not used: 13 Joseph Whitworth (Crystal Palace), 15 Brodi Hughes (Chelsea), 16 Kaden Rodney (Crystal Palace), 20 Reuell Walters (Arsenal), 23 Jack Wells-Morrison (Crystal Palace), 24 Oliver Arblaster (Sheffield United)
Head coach: Ryan Garry
Goals: Sonny Perkins 28, Jamal Gonzaga 47, Ernest Poku 51, Samuel Mather 62, Iggy Houben 74