Mixed fortunes for Spurs trio in U21 European Championship opener

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England begin the tournament with a defeat after toiling against a talented Portuguese side.

Much anticipation followed England’s build-up to the Under-21 European Championships in the Czech Republic this summer.

The squad is one of the most talented assembled in recent years with Premier League regulars like Harry Kane, Danny Ings and James Ward-Prowse making up the numbers.

Spurs have a considerable presence in the squad with main threat Harry Kane supported by Alex Pritchard and Tom Carroll, two players hoping to feature in Mauricio Pochettino’s squad next season.

Kane and Carroll started the game while Pritchard was resigned to a place on the bench. Carroll started brightly and was involved in his typical manner, linking well with his Spurs colleague and providing moments of guile in the attacking third.

Portugal slowly began to assert themselves however, and the powerful William Carvahlo alongside captain Sergio Oliveria soon started to dominate in midfield.There were chances at both ends and Kane went close with a couple of strikes from distance before the half-time whistle saw both teams go in goalless.

Portugal built on their momentum in the second half and grabbed the decisive goal through Mario’s 56th minute effort.

Kane became increasingly isolated as Portugal took control and Carroll’s waning influence saw him substituted for Spurs team-mate Alex Pritchard with ten minutes remaining. The introduction of Pritchard and Danny Ings breathed new life into England and the closing stages almost produced an equaliser.

Pritchard, in particular, was a real menace, tormenting his full back and seeing plenty of the ball in the few minutes he was on. His trickery on the right and clever pass set up Kane’s best chance but the 31-goal striker shot straight at the grateful Jose Sa.

England continued to press for the equaliser but it proved unforthcoming despite some tantalising Pritchard crosses and Portugal ran out one-nil winners in the group opener.

The game produced differing fortunes for the Spurs bunch and food for though for Pochettino. Carroll struggled to impose himself on the game and looks unsuited to the number ten role while Kane was isolated at times but still remained a threat when on the ball.

Alex Pritchard’s cameo was the real high point and is sure to have Spurs fans excited for the coming season. The 21-year old produced as much excitement and danger in 10 minutes as much of the team combined had mustered up until that point. Gareth Southgate will feel the pressure to start the Spurs man in England’s next game against Sweden and based on tonight’s performance, it’s a no brainer.

Should Alex Pritchard start for England?

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