England U21s squandered a two-goal lead as Janez Pisek’s deflected stoppage-time free-kick salvaged Slovenia a 2-2 draw in a friendly.
Aidy Boothroyd’s side made the perfect start in their bid to book their place at Euro 2021 in Hungary and Slovenia by recording wins over Turkey and Kosovo last month and for 82 minutes England were in total control in Maribor.
Eddie Nketiah broke the deadlock with a confident penalty (39) and substitute Sam Surridge’s instinctive finish (71) put the visitors in a commanding position.
But Dejan Petrovic’s strike eight minutes from time, followed by Pisek’s speculative drive ensured England head into their third Euro 2021 Qualifier against Austria on Tuesday with a sense of frustration.
The Young Lions enjoyed 71 per cent possession of the ball and were untroubled during a dominant opening period.
Foden was a lively presence and came close to breaking the deadlock when his shot from Max Aarons’ pull-back whistled just over the crossbar – but England made their pressure count six minutes before the interval.
Nketiah scored twice in the 3-2 victory over Turkey last month, and the on-loan Leeds striker notched his fifth goal at this age level from the penalty spot.
The 20-year-old received Foden’s pass inside the area, and a sharp turn forced Zan Zaletel to haul him to the ground. Nketiah made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Ziga Frelih the wrong way to convert England’s dominance into a slender lead.
England might have extended their lead on the stroke of half-time as Aarons slalomed his way inside the box on the right before dragging his shot just wide of the post.
Substitute Petrovic saw his shot deflect over within a minute of the restart, and from the resulting corner, QPR forward Jan Mlakar failed to direct his close-range header on target.
But England doubled their lead when Rhian Brewster’s corner was headed against the post by Ben Wilmot, and Jonathan Panzo reacted quickest to hook the ball back across goal for Surridge to tap home on debut.
Petrovic pulled one back for the hosts after a poor clearance from Aaron Ramsdale was intercepted by Tomi Horvat, who set up Petrovic for a simple finish, and a foul by Panzo on Horvat allowed Slovenia the chance to level in the final minute of stoppage time.
Pisek’s free-kick lacked height and power but a cruel deflection wrong-footed Ramsdale, who was unable to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
England U21s host Austria on Tuesday in Group 3 at Stadium MK (kick-off is at 7.45pm) before facing a trip to Albania on November 15.