Georgia 3-2 England MU21s
England men’s under-21s slipped to a 3-2 friendly defeat away to Georgia despite a debut goal from Leeds United striker Sam Greenwood.
Georgia striker Giorgi Guliashvili scored a goal either side of half-time for the 2023 UEFA Under-21s European Championships co-hosts before right-back Giorgi Gocholeishvili added a third and gave the home side a comfortable advantage.
Debutant Greenwood scored nine minutes from time before fellow replacement Marc Guehi headed home in stoppage-time but England ran out of time to overturn the deficit.
Only Luke Thomas and Folarin Balogun remained from Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Czech Republic, the side above England in Group G of qualifying for the Under-21 European Championship, as several youngsters were given more minutes against a strong Georgian side.
England dominated possession early on and the first big chance fell to Balogun who was put through on goal by captain Rhian Brewster.
But the Arsenal man’s first touch escaped him, allowing Georgian goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili to rush out and parry the ball.
The rebound fell to Angel Gomes whose rasping shot was blocked wide as Lee Carsley’s men threatened to strike first inside five minutes.
Only some key defensive interventions from Clinton Mola and Morgan Gibbs-White kept Georgia at bay before Gomes fired a back-heel straight at Valencia shot-stopper Mamardashvili and Balogun crashed one into the side netting.
However, it was Georgia who scored the opener after 24 minutes when Thomas’ block fell kindly for striker Guliashvili, who lashed his volley into the bottom corner to give the hosts the lead.
Skipper Brewster spurned a great chance to equalise for England when Gomes played him in, but the Sheffield United man dragged his shot wide with only the keeper to beat.
Georgia continued to physically impose themselves and England lost Balogun to injury, with Greenwood replacing him and making his Under-21s bow before half-time.
Guliashvili bagged a second goal inside two minutes of the restart when he latched onto right-back Gocholeishvili’s through ball and fired a smart finish across Young Lions keeper Etienne Green.
And the No.9 should really have completed his hat-trick in the 55th minute but his free header from Giorgi Moistsrapishvili’s pinpoint cross drifted wide from just six yards out.
Georgia did make it three with 25 minutes still to play when Gocholeishvili nut-megged Thomas and steamed into the box from the right before slipping the ball past the onrushing Green.
Boss Carsley made several changes and England grabbed one back nine minutes from time when Mola’s header from Tommy Doyle’s corner deflected in off Greenwood.
Sub Guehi powered home a header from another Doyle corner in the fourth minute of added time, but it was too late to then go on and complete a comeback.
England: 13 Etienne Green (Saint-Etienne), 3 Luke Thomas (Leicester City), 7 Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United), 9 Folarin Balogun (Arsenal), 11 Angel Gomes (Lille), 14 Tommy Doyle (Hamburg), 15 Charlie Cresswell (Leeds United), 16 Clinton Mola (Stuttgart), 18 James Garner (Nottingham Forest), 20 Morgan Gibbs-White (Sheffield United), 21 Cody Drameh (Leeds United)
Substitutes: 17 Sam Greenwood (Leeds United) for Balogun 36, 19 Anthony Gordon (Everton) for Gomes 67, 5 Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Anderlecht) for Brewster 71, 6 Oliver Skipp (Tottenham Hotspur) for Garner 77, 2 Max Aarons (Norwich City) for Drameh 77, 4 Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace) for Thomas 77
Substitutes not used: 1 Josef Bursik (Stoke City), 22 Josh Griffiths (Lincoln City), 12 Jacob Ramsay (Aston Villa)
Head coach: Lee Carsley
Goals: Greenwood 81, Guehi 90+4
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