Pearce: No excuse for defeat
Stuart Pearce would not accept any excuses for England Under-21s' defeat to Italy, saying the best team won the European Championship opener in Tel Aviv.
The Azzurrini capitalised on the confusion surrounding Craig Dawson's disallowed goal, after he thought he had headed England ahead four minutes into the second half but, despite the announcer giving the goal and putting Dawson's face on the scoreboard, it was chalked off because of an apparent push by Steven Caulker in the build-up.
England failed to recover from the blow and Lorenzo Insigne's free-kick secured Italy a 1-0 win - a result Pearce could not dispute. "It took a long time to disallow it and I'm not sure what for," the Under-21s boss said.
"Someone told me the sixth official saw something. Like always we trust the officials. I can't bleat about that because I thought there was a penalty in the first half for the Italians. I thought the performance was very poor, I thought the best team won the game. When Italy did actually score the goal it was probably as comfortable as I felt within the game.
"I thought the movement of their front line caused a problem and we got caught between when to press and when to drop off.
"Once Dawson scored we thought we got our noses in front, which would have given us a touch more confidence, but I think overall on the night it was a poor performance from us, which is unlike us, we've been playing very well. But we didn't have things our own way against a decent Italian side and we'll have to learn by it to go into the game on Saturday."
The defeat leaves England bottom of Group A after matchday one, with Israel held to a last-gasp draw by Norway. The Scandinavians are the Young Lions' next opponents and Pearce admits victory in Petah Tikva would be a huge boost to their chances of qualifying.
"The way I look at it now we're probably in a three-team group, us Norway and Israel, and they've probably got the march on us because of the point they've both got," he said. "I think probably we'll have to win both games, without a doubt, but that's tournament football, it's unforgiving.
"We have to be strong enough and man enough to say we were beaten by a better team and we need to improve on Saturday evening. I think we need to move in behind the opposition's back line a bit better than we did, that has been a key of the way we play as a team.
"The change of personnel probably played a big part in that, and I think some of our players in the midfield area didn't show the real quality they have on the ball. We've got to improve on that."
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