England U21 1-2 Slovenia U21: Spence own-goal sees Three Lions lose

England U21 1-2 Slovenia U21: Djed Spence’s own-goal and Mark Zabukovnik’s header see Three Lions fall to defeat despite Cameron Archer’s late strike… as Lee Carsley’s side finish top of their Euro 2023 qualifying group

  • England U21 were beaten 2-1 by Slovenia U21 in their final Euro 2023 qualifier 
  • Middlesbrough full-back Djed Spence scored an own-goal in the first-half 
  • Mark Zabukovnik doubled the visitors lead with a well taken header
  • Aston Villa’s Cameron Archer scored a consolation goal in added time 

On his first camp as manager, Lee Carsley went armed with a picture of Tyson Fury strewn on the Los Angeles canvas, Deontay Wilder standing over him.

It was the night Fury boxed clever, dramatically resurrecting the heavyweight bout in one of the finest comebacks ever seen. Carsley, possibly mindful of England’s chequered record at Under-21 tournaments, beamed the picture up and explained Fury’s story to a new crop of players.

‘The point I was making to the lads was that at some point, this is going to happen to us,’ he said. ‘What everyone wants to see is how you’re going to react.’

Djed Spence (left) scored an unfortunate headed own-goal in the first-half of the game

Carsley will have to wait until September to see how they respond to this shock by Slovenia, England’s first defeat in a qualifier for 11 years – a run stretching 55 matches.

Maybe the Young Lions needed this as a reminder. Previous teams have swanned through qualifying and then not reacted well to any sort of adversity, failing to progress through European Championship group stages in five of the last six finals. 

Time will tell whether this squad can manage that next year but here came proof that there remains work to be done.

Mark Zabukovnik doubled Slovenia’s lead with a well taken header in the second-half

Slovenia have been the only opposition in this group to really cause them problems, shocking England earlier in the campaign to draw from two down. And they went ahead within a minute last night, Djed Spence inadvertently heading past Joe Bursik from a free kick.

England toiled when searching for an equaliser, Jacob Ramsey going closest when flashing wide and wanting a penalty when breaking through. Emile Smith Rowe’s deflected effort went wide but chances lacked.

And their visitors capitalised on a lacklustre display, with Mark Zabukovnik nestling between defenders to send a towering header beyond Bursik from another routine set play. Substitute Cameron Archer threatened a comeback when squeezing in during stoppage time but it was only a consolation.

Aston Villa’s Cameron Archer scored a late consolation goal deep in added time 

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