Second-half substitute Josh Sims was unable to prevent England Under-20s slipping to a shock 2-1 defeat to Japan in the opening match of this year’s Toulon Tournament.
The Southampton winger arrived off the bench in the 73rd minute as the Young Lions, competition winners for the last three years running, surrendered a half-time lead in southern France.
Chelsea defender Trevoh Chalobah, who spent last season on loan at Ipswich in the Championship, gave favourites England the lead with a header from a corner in the 38th minute.
All was going to plan for Paul Simpson’s side at the interval, but back came Japan to equalise two minutes after the restart through Takuma Ominami, before Yoichi Naganuma struck midway through the second half to turn the game on its head.
Simpson introduced Sims five minutes later in a bid to salvage a result, but his team could not find an equaliser despite applying late pressure.
Sims himself came close, seeing a last-gasp header saved as Japan came through six added minutes unscathed.
Also in Group A are Portugal and Chile, and England must surely now take maximum points against both nations, with only the group winners assured of a place in the semi-finals.