Another toothless performance, another dreadful defeat as Aidy Boothroyd’s side flopped again in the Euro finals.
Dany Mota gave a vastly superior Portugal side the lead after 65 minutes, and left England with only an extremely slim chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Euros.
The results will trigger an inquest at the FA over how Boothroyd has won just two games out of nine at finals.
In fact the U21 malaise goes deeper. In the last decade England have won just three games out of 18 at Euro finals.
Man of the match Mota, who plays for Italian club Monza, ran England ragged and left the Three Lions bottom of Group D.
Only a big win against Croatia on Wednesday will give them any hope, and they will rely on Portugal beating Switzerland.
In reality it’s a likely repeat of the group stage failure in 2019, and could end Boothroyd’s reign as boss.
Scandalously, England haven’t managed a shot on target in open play in three hours of play in Slovenia.
Francisco Trincao sealed England’s fate with a 74 th minute penalty after Marc Guehi clipped the ankle of Goncalo Ramos.
England’s campaign got off to a dreadful start with Boothroyd admitting this side were too safe against Switzerland.
It got worse here as they were outpassed and outplayed – 20 shots to three – by the technically better Portuguese.
A vow to go all out for goals hit a snag when Callum Hudson-Odoi, the only player with senior experience in the squad, was left out with a “slight” shoulder injury.
And another snag with the team playing like strangers, even called up twins Ryan and Steven Sessegnon in their first U21 start together.
The men in white looked disjointed and dispirited.
Defender Ben Godfrey said: “It was difficult up against a top side. A tough game. We have to learn again and stay positive. We have another game and have to fight. It is still mathematically possible.
“We have to reflect and forget and want to win against Croatia. We can perform better.”
Within two minutes Portugal had scared England with Ben Godfrey clearing off the line from Pedro Goncalves header. He was excellent with Mota up front.
Tom Davies, who had a stinker, gave the ball away on the edge of the box but Fabio Vieira’s shot was saved by Aaron Ramsdale.
Thierry Correia and Pedro Goncalves then forced a good save from Ramsdale with England shaky at the back and Portugal bossing the game throughout.
Boothroyd defends himself by saying the best U21s are quickly passed to Gareth Southgate’s seniors.
But he has no defence when it comes to performance at major finals.