Aidy Boothroyd 'gutted' as England under-21s crash out on penalties
England under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd was left "gutted" and "sick" following his side's heartbreaking semifinal shootout exit to Germany at Euro 2017.
Julian Pollersbeck saved Nathan Redmond's deciding spot-kick as the Young Lions went out 4-3 on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra-time. Tammy Abraham also had his effort saved in the shootout as Germany sealed a place in Friday's final in Krakow.
Abraham had put England 2-1 ahead in normal time only for Felix Platte to level after Demarai Gray cancelled out David Selke's opener in Tychy.
But it was another England penalty shootout defeat to the Germans -- after the seniors lost at the World Cup in 1990 and Euro '96.
Boothroyd said: "We are absolutely gutted, it's a mixture of being sick of losing on penalties after going so close but also being very pleased that this is not just one game, a lot of hard work went into this tournament.
"The fact we went down and came back says a lot to me about the character of the players. But obviously we've got to keep practising those penalties.
"A lot of players have given everything. We went behind and came back into the game and I thought it was our day after that backs-to-the-wall performance. I fancied our chances strongly.
"With all the practise we have done their goalkeeper made two very good saves.''
England wasted several early chances with Gray and Nathaniel Chalobah going close but Germany took the lead through Selke's 35th-minute header.
Gray and Abraham netted either side of the break but Platte levelled with the Germans dominating the latter stages and extra time.
Jordan Pickford save from Yannick Gerhardt's penalty in the shoot-out was in vain and Boothroyd vowed his side will be ready to return for the start of Euro 2019 qualifying in September.
He said: "Yes definitely. That's the thing, before you know it we'll be back in September playing the Dutch away and trying to qualify for the next one. I've certainly learnt plenty.
"The tournament as it stands with 12 teams really puts people under pressure early on. It's great for the neutral, not so good for the coaches. But I thought we showed a lot of composure and confidence in big games."
It was Germany boss Stefan Kuntz's second penalty win over England after he scored in the Euro '96 semifinal shootout which knocked out the Three Lions.
Goalkeeper Pollersbeck had notes about England's takers in his sock and Kuntz said the 22-year-old was fully prepared.
He said: "You will have to ask Julian and the goalkeeper coach [about the notes]. With regards to his preparation he told us he was going to study the shooters and if he doesn't believe a shooter is self confident, he will concentrate on the ball.
"You can't practice penalties. You can't recreate the atmosphere. So as a coach you only practice so nobody can say you didn't do it. If you play a final you obviously want to win. We will prepare a plan for Friday."
Boothroyd added: "We had an iPad so I guess we won that battle, using technology. He got really close to the last one. We are very very disappointed."
Gray also refused to blame Redmond for England's exit and backed him to recover from the miss.
He said: "He has been great in the changing room. When the lads need waking up, he is the one that does it.
"We are devastated for him. We created some chances and we are so disappointed not to go through. I'll put my arm around his shoulder like he would do for me.
"It's not nice to see what happened to him but we are there for him. I've looked up to him since our days together at Birmingham and he's helped me a lot, even in this tournament when I have been down. He will move on."