Georgia U21 3-2 England U21: Young Lions suffer embarrassing defeat

Georgia U21 3-2 England U21: Young Lions suffer embarrassing defeat in friendly despite late fightback as Lee Carsley tastes first loss as manager

  • England fell 3-0 behind in their shock Under 21 friendly defeat at Georgia 
  • Sam Greenwood pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute after Clinton Mola header
  • Young Lions grabbed another in fourth added on minute through Marc Guehi
  • Loss marks the first under Lee Carsley after former Everton star took reins in July 

England’s Under 21s will be left stewing for the next four months after ending the year with a chastening friendly defeat in Georgia.

Lee Carsley has contended with senior call-ups and injuries involving his brightest prospects, but his much-changed side were second-best against a host of the European Championship in 2023.

England do not meet again until March when they resume qualification and it now remains to be seen what Carsley’s squad will look like when those fixtures arrive. 

Rhian Brewster of England reacts after shooting wide during the shock defeat in Georgia

It is the England Under 21s first defeat under Lee Carsley (left) who took charge back in July

Giorgi Guliashvili, striker at midtable Saburtalo in Georgia’s top flight, scored either side of half-time before club teammate Giorgi Gocholeishvili was afforded the freedom of Batumi from right back to notch a third.

England will feel that both Angel Gomes and Rhian Brewster might have done better with chances, while Folarin Balogun – who hobbled off injured – went clean through only to be stopped in his tracks.

But Georgia were more progressive throughout, with Gocholeishvili firing an early warning and Guliashvili heading wide as a hat-trick appeared a certainty.

Guliashvili’s opener, a stunning volley, came from a corner at the end of a camp in which assistant Ashley Cole has drilled the team on repelling set pieces in training. 

England players line up before their Under 21 friendly at the Batumi Stadium in Georgia

But England were left stunned as the hosts punished Carsley’s side by going 3-0 up

A deflected header off Sam Greenwood eight minutes from time gave England hope

Although England did rally with two goals from corners late on, the performance gives Carsley – who was without Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones and Cole Palmer through injury – serious food for thought over the winter months.

Very few youngsters handed senior debuts by Gareth Southgate return to the Under 21 group and decisions will need to be made on the pathways of Conor Gallagher and Emile Smith Rowe after their recent promotions.

Making his full debut, Stuttgart defender Clinton Mola planted a free header into the far corner from Tommy Doyle’s delivery in the final 10 minutes, although the final touch appeared to come off team-mate Sam Greenwood.

Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi then grabbed a stoppage time consolation with a header

Georgia players celebrate their deserved 3-2 victory in front of supporters after the game

Captain Marc Guehi only came off the bench late on with the friendly already lost but did make this interesting when meeting Doyle’s corner to add a second in stoppage time.

Guehi’s usual centre back partner, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, was also named on the bench alongside other regulars Oliver Skipp and Max Aarons.

Very few of those afforded their opportunity to shine seemed to do enough to alter Carsley’s thinking for future selections.

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