England coach Brian Eastick admitted his side were second best today, after they lost 2-0 to hosts Ukraine in the UEFA European U-19 Championship final in Donetsk. Goals in the fifth minute of each half, from Denys Garmash and then Dmytro Korkishko, were too much for the visitors.
England, who kicked off after a minute's silence was observed following the death of Sir Bobby Robson two days ago, had looked an improving team on their way to the decider. Having previously drawn 2-2 with Ukraine in the group phase, they booked their rematch with a 3-1 extra-time win over France in Thursday's semi-final.
Eastick believes those exertions may have been a factor in today's loss. "We've no complaints really," he told Press Association Sport. "I don't think we played well enough on the day to win it. Overall it was probably the right result.
"Obviously being the home team was a big advantage to them, and the two things really were the timing of the goals - to concede so early in the first half and then again in the second half, it put us back on our heels. Possibly the extra-time against France took it out of the boys' legs, so we struggled to get any momentum behind us. But the timing of the goals put us on the back foot."
England soon found themselves trailing when Garmash got on the end of a corner to the near post and powered the ball past goalkeeper Jason Steele. The Three Lions thought they were level shortly after the quarter-hour mark, when Aston Villa's Nathan Delfouneso had the ball in the net only to discover his effort had been ruled out for offside.
England's best chances came in the first half and fell first to Danny Drinkwater and then Henri Lansbury, whose free-kick from a promising position was struck straight into the wall. It was from a similar position that Ukraine made it 2-0, Danny Gosling unfairly impeding Garmash and Korkishko placing the ball beyond Steele into the net.
Ukraine captain Kyrylo Petrov and Korkishko could easily have extended the home lead, while England had few chances to get back into the match in the second half.
"I think they've done the country proud," Eastick added on his team. "There were a lot of young players here, and the experience they have gained will be terrific for them. I'm sure it will hold them in really good stead next year."