Luke Garbutt was handed a start as England Under-21s kicked off their European Championships campaign with a defeat against Portugal on Thursday evening.
John Stones had been ruled out of the opening two games of the tournament with a head injury sustained on Wednesday, but Garbutt was selected at left-back by Gareth Southgate for the opener in Czech Republic.
And, despite playing the full 90 minutes, the Blues left-back was unable to prevent the Young Lions succumbing to Joao Mario’s goal 12 minutes into the second half.
Jack Butland had dealt with an early scare when a cross from the right hit Liam Moore and deflected goalward before Nathan Redmond and Harry Kane both had good efforts saved by Portuguese keeper Jose Sa. Jesse Lingard also curled an effort wide of the mark seconds before the interval.
But after the break, Portugal scored the game’s only goal. A cross into the box deflected off Garbutt into the path of Bernardo Silva and after he hit the post, the rebound was tucked home by Mario.
From then on Portugal dominated possession without really troubling Butland’s goal, while Southgate’s men could only threaten through Kane, who stung the palms of Sa from inside the box, while substitute Danny Ings fired wide.
England Under-21s now have the opportunity to bounce back on Sunday when they face Sweden, who defeated Italy in the other opening game in the group.