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Published 25 November 2022 4 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Gareth Southgate: 'We're not going to roll through a tournament without having nights like that'

Written by:

Frank Smith

England head into their final Group B game at the 2022 FIFA World Cup knowing a draw against Wales will be enough to qualify

Gareth Southgate believes England showed some of the different qualities needed in tournament football during the 0-0 draw with the USA.

Monday’s 6-2 victory over Iran showcased England’s ruthless streak and clinical finishing.

But against the USA on Friday night, the Three Lions struggled to break down the opposition and spent periods of the game on the backfoot.

Southgate said: "It was exactly the sort of game I thought it would be, really tough. A good opponent, they're very, very athletic. I knew it would be difficult for us after such a high (against Iran) to then replicate that type of performance. 

Jordan Pickford was the busier of the goalkeepers in the first half
Jordan Pickford was the busier of the goalkeepers in the first half

“I'm really pleased with how the players have applied themselves. Some of our quality in the final third could have been a little bit better but we've shown great resilience to defend against an opponent that kept asking questions. We controlled the game from the back but couldn't really open up for that really clear-cut chance.”

When asked what was missing, he added: “A little bit of zip. We didn't quite have that same zip. That's going to happen, this is tournament football. We're not going to roll through a tournament and sweep through without having nights like that when you have to show different qualities to get a result.”

England remain in a strong position in Group B, as they sit top of the table on four points, knowing a draw against Wales on Tuesday night will be enough to qualify for the last 16.

Southgate is pleased with where the Three Lions are at after two matches and also praised the performances of his two centre-backs, Harry Maguire and John Stones.

Mason Mount stung the palms of Matt Turner just before half-time
Mason Mount stung the palms of Matt Turner just before half-time

Southgate said: "Silver medal today was a point because it puts us in a really strong position in terms of qualification. If we can win our last game, we win the group. The objective is to get out of the group, we've got three games to do it. We've done it in two games in the last two tournaments, it's very unrealistic to expect that every time.”

He continued: "Wales will be a totally different game. Today we played a team that make it really difficult. 

“I am so pleased with the way we built from the back and they make it really difficult to build. We have had problems with that in the past. Our two centre-backs with the ball were absolutely outstanding. I don't think people appreciate how good they are and they defended their box brilliantly.”

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