Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock both scored despite a damaging England u20 defeat to Portugal on Tuesday.

Joe Willock
Joe Willock at the Toulon Tournament (Photo via Magali Ruffato / MemoPhoto)

England lost 3-2 in their second game of the competition, effectively eliminating them in the group stage.

The u20 team was among the favourites as the soccer bookies odds showed. After winning the tournament three times in a row, England didn’t even make the final this year, perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be.

The young lions had already lost their first game 2-1 against Japan, which had seemed like a shock result before the Japanese youngsters went on to beat Chile 6-1.

Neither Willock nor Nketiah featured against Japan, given it was so soon after they returned from the Europa League final. However, both made the starting lineup against Portugal, and it didn’t take long for them to have an impact.

Within eight minutes, Nketiah had given England the lead. The young Arsenal striker made a great run across the near post and hit the bar with his initial shot, but he found space in the box to turn in a rebound not long afterwards.


There wasn’t anything Willock or Nketiah could do about the England defence falling apart for the rest of the half though, as Portugal completely turned the game around to lead 3-1.

Willock managed to get on the scoresheet late in the match, turning home a shot from Nketiah that may well have been going in anyway. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to avoid a second defeat in two games.

It’s never any surprise to see those two adding to their goal tallies at youth level. Nketiah scored 10 goals in 11 games for the Arsenal u23s in 2018/19, whilst Willock managed nine in 14 from midfield. Both also netted for their first team despite very limited minutes.

The England u20s may have already missed out on the semi-finals, but they still have one more group game against Chile. That will be followed by a placement match against an opponent to be confirmed, to decide their final standing at the tournament.