England 1-2 France: Ten-man England U21 stunned by French late show in frantic Euro 2019 clash
Phil Foden scores solo stunner and France miss two penalties but England eventually fall short in Euro 2019 opener after Aaron Wan-Bissaka's horror own goal
Last Updated: 19/06/19 10:33am
Ten-man England were stunned by two late France goals as they were beaten 2-1 in their opening European U21 Championship Group C clash in Cesena.
Phil Foden scored a stunner and France missed two penalties in an hectic encounter, before a Jonathan Ikone leveller (89) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka's horror own goal (90+5) gave France victory.
England had the better of the early chances but France missed the best chance to take the lead through the penalty spot as Moussa Dembele saw his effort saved by Dean Henderson (25) after Jay Clarke-Salter had been penalised for a handball.
England got a deserved opener after the break as Phil Foden slalomed through four France tackles before coolly finishing (54), but there was more madness at the other end as a VAR review saw Hamza Choudhury dismissed for a nasty tackle in the area, only for Houssem Aouar's penalty to hit the post (66).
Then came France's late double show, and England, who have not won the tournament since 1984, now face Romania in Group C on Friday, live on Sky Sports Football.
How 10-man England crumbled in bizarre clash
England burst out of the traps, looking confident in possession and keen to play through the lines at speed, nearly taking the lead as Ryan Sessegnon's right-wing cross hit France defender Ibrahima Konate and bounced off the post.
Dominic Solanke then struck just wide on the stretch from a wicked Demarai Gray cross, but France had the chance to take the lead from the spot as England captain Clarke-Salter handled a Jeff Reine-Adelaide header.
Though the decision looked harsh, VAR did not review the incident, but Henderson guessed correctly, diving to his left as he beat away Dembele's effort.
England continued to make inroads, however, going close again as Gray struck an angled effort into the side-netting when one-on-one with Paul Bernardoni, before Foden's superb individual effort, picking up the ball just inside the French half, dancing past five tackles and slotting low into the left corner for his first England U21 goal.
France were then awarded another penalty as Choudhury went in hard on Jonathan Bamba, with his initial yellow card then ruled as a red by the VAR, Aouar's penalty cannoned off the post as England stayed ahead.
Henderson made another fine stop for England from Ikone's long-range effort, but there was nothing he could do about another Ikone strike from a similar position with just a minute remaining, finding the bottom right corner through a crowd of players from 15 yards.
And England crumbled again in the fifth minute of stoppage time as sub Mateta's flick with his back to goal should have been dealt with, but Crystal Palace defender Wan-Bissaka, the subject of interest from Manchester United, saw his miscued clearance fly into the roof of the net.
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He told Sky Sports: "The sending off ultimately gave us our biggest problem. As brave and battle-hardened as the team are, it was just too much to take. I've had a few last-minute wins in my time, and a few last-minute losses, but that was as tough as I've ever taken and I think the players will feel it more than most.
"After all the drama I think 1-1 would have been fair, but football's not fair, is it?
"I think some of the football was outstanding, and Foden's goal was a gem. We've got to look at ourselves and think if we'd put our chances away first half, perhaps it would have been a different story. I've told them all to make sure we stay focussed, not sulk, and just get on with it."
'Outstanding, unbelievable footballer'
Sky Sports pundit Liam Rosenior was quick to praise Foden's display against France.
"I thought Foden showed so many incredible moments today. Outstanding, unbelievable footballer. The goal is incredible, but his all-round play was fantastic. And for him to be on the losing team after a performance like that, he has every right to be devastated."
'He has switched off and ball watched'
However, the same cannot be said of Wan-Bissaka, who inadvertently scored France's injury-time winner.
"Wan-Bissaka has lost his man as well," said Sky Sports pundit Jamie O'Hara. "He has come in, and it is actually his man that he is marking. He has lost him and then he has tried ti get back in. He has to go with his left foot there, but he has switched off and ball watched, which you do not do.
"His man has drifted off the back of him, and he has got a free chance. But you have to go with your left foot there and just swing basically. But just do not put it into your own net."
England player ratings
After a disheartening defeat in Cesena, we rate the performances of the Young Lions out of 10...
All the ways to watch the tournament...
England face Romania on Friday at 5.30pm in their second Group C clash, and every game during the UEFA European Under-21 Championship will be shown live on Sky Sports.
Sky Sports subscribers will also be able to stream the games via the Sky Sports app or the Sky Go app.
Non-subscribers can watch all the action through NOW TV. A Sky Sportsday pass is available for £8.99, a week pass for £14.99 or a month pass for £33.99. NOW TV can be streamed through a computer or apps.