England Under-21s’ perfect record in Euro 2021 qualifying ended in ignominious fashion on Wednesday when they were held to a 3-3 draw in Andorra.
In a topsy-turvy match Aidy Boothroyd’s team recovered from going 1-0 down to take a 3-2 lead through Eddie Nketiah in the 83rd minute but conceded a stoppage-time equaliser.
Andorra – population 77,000 – celebrated after collecting their fifth point from seven games in the group. They have beaten Turkey and drawn with Albania at home but remain bottom of the section.
“A crazy game,” Boothroyd said. “You have to give credit to your opponent first and foremost. The way they celebrated just shows what the result means to them. We expect to come here and win … It’s definitely a learning curve for me and the lads. The result is a warning to make sure we’re absolutely bang on every single time.”
Boothroyd felt the artificial surface was a factor. “The pitch is a leveller,” he said. “It’s different to what our players are used to. The way we play, we move the ball quickly around the park and get into good positions because we can move it swiftly and get in between lines. It’s very difficult to do that on a surface where it is naturally slower. It suits Andorra. It is a factor, there’s no doubt about it.”
England went 1-0 down in the 28th minute when Ricard Fernández’s firm strike flew past Aaron Ramsdale. The captain Tom Davies equalised with a fine finish from just outside the box shortly before the interval, teed up by Josh Dasilva, who put England ahead in the 69th minute after good work by Curtis Jones.
Fernández scored seven minutes later to restore parity but the substitute Nketiah looked to have saved England from embarrassment after being set up by Eberechi Eze until Christian Garcia secured a point for Andorra with a lofted effort.
England had won their previous six group games and require three points to guarantee qualification from three matches, starting against Turkey at Molineux on Tuesday.
The starting lineup featured three debutants in Liverpool’s Jones and Rhys Williams and Manchester United’s Brandon Williams.