England ended their preparations for the European Under-21 Championship in the summer with a defeat to Croatia.

Lee Carsley’s side came into the match at Craven Cottage having beaten France U21s 4-0 on Saturday but there were 10 changes to the line-up that started that game.

The Young Lions started the game on top, with Manchester City’s Cole Palmer threatening, but they were lacking a cutting edge with Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun, top scorer for loan club Reims in France, missing through injury.

Croatia took the lead against the run of play. Manchester City’s Rico Lewis committed a foul 25 yards out from goal and Martin Baturina smashed the free-kick into the top left-hand corner, giving James Trafford no chance.

England changed their goalkeepers at half-time and the first real thing West Bromwich Albion’s Josh Griffiths had to do was pick the ball out of the back of the net.

Luke Thomas made a clumsy challenge on Matja Frigan in the area and Dion Drena Beljo sent Griffiths the wrong way from the penalty spot to double the Croatians’ lead.

It could have been worse for England but Griffiths made an excellent save from close range to deny Lukas Kacavenda.

Carsley threw on Emile Smith-Rowe, Harvey Elliot, Morgan Gibbs-White, Angel Gomes and Djed Spence in an attempt to get something from the match.

They were given a lifeline when Nottingham Forest’s Gibbs-White was brought down in the area and he scored from the spot-kick.

But it was not enough for England and they will go into the U21 Euro Finals in Romania and Georgia on the back of a defeat.

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