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Pearce proud of England U21s after Portugal draw

England U21 boss Stuart Pearce was delighted with his team's performance in last night's 1-1 draw with European Championship qualifying opponents Portugal.

Pearce's youngsters fell behind at Estadio Municipal de Agueda after just three minutes when Vieirinha tucked away a penalty but Adam Johnson earned a draw with a sweet volley just after the break.

They may have lost their 100% record in their UEFA Championship qualifying campaign but the point keeps them on course to reach the play-offs, and Pearce was delighted with the spirit in the makeshift side.

He felt their performance had echoes of the finals in Holland this year when England reached the semi-finals.

"It rolled the clock back to the summer, we felt as though we went into it nervous and it was an uphill struggle after the early penalty but that is why we are here, for experiences like that when we need to get back into the game," he said.

"I was immensely proud of them. I could name 14 that weren't available, players came in and I couldn't be more proud of them.

"A draw was a fair result between two good teams battling for a win."

Matt Derbyshire and Gabriel Agbonlahor were ruled out on the morning of the game, and Steven Taylor only lasted a half because of a back problem.

"With the squad situation we've have had, the players seem to adapt to it, David Wheater slips in at centre-back and by the end of the match it's not my first-choice back four," Pearce added.

"Everyone who has come in gives me something to think about."

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Tribal Football Staff

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