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Published 09 September 2023 4 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Gareth Southgate reflects on 'important point' against Ukraine

Written by:

Frank Smith

Gareth Southgate reacts to England's draw against Ukraine at the Tarczyński Arena


England manager Gareth Southgate admits his team can still sharpen up again, after seeing the Three Lions held to a 1-1 draw by Ukraine.

The Three Lions went into the game, held in Wroclaw, Poland, with a 100 per cent record in their UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying group.

But after Oleksander Zinchenko put Ukraine ahead midway through the first half, England had to find a way back into the game against a well-marshalled and tough opponent before Kyle Walker levelled things up just before the break.

"It’s a very tough place to come - you could feel the atmosphere, it was a unique occasion really,” said Southgate.

“I thought we controlled the game, we had 70 per cent of the ball, so we passified a lot of that atmosphere.

“What we didn't do well enough was our work in the final third, we didn't create enough chances from the possession and territory we had.
The Three Lions celebrate Kyle Walker's goal against Ukraine in Wroclaw
The Three Lions celebrate Kyle Walker's goal against Ukraine in Wroclaw
"Clearly, when you have that much of the ball you want to create more chances. Our attacking play just didn't click today.

“If that's the case, you've got to make sure you don't lose the game, and having gone behind, to come back and get the point, in terms of qualification, is very important.

“We kept calm, we got the goal back from a well-worked play between Harry [Kane] and Kyle. Again we controlled the game, they had a few counter attacks, but if anybody was going to win it, I felt it was going to be us - but we didn't create enough chances to deserve that.

"Qualification is eight games and we probably had the toughest group around because of the seedings. We've taken four points from the two big away games. Of course, we want to play better than we did tonight, but it's a really important point."

One aspect which did please Southgate was seeing Walker get his first goal for the Three Lions in what was his 77th cap.

The Manchester City man has been a regular fixture in the team under Southgate and the manager believed he was among the pick of the players again in Wroclaw.

“His all-round game was exceptional tonight,” said Southgate.

“He showed really important defensive qualities, his cover of a very good winger. We know it's a huge attribute of Kyle's but he used the ball well, he got forward for the goal well and he showed great composure to take it. He's a really important player in our group.

"We just have to keep working on the training pitch on those attacking patterns. We know that our play can be better than it was today.”

Another player which impressed Southgate was defender Marc Guehi, who slotted seamlessly into central defence alongside Harry Maguire.

"He was very good and hat's a great test for a young centre back in one of his first qualifying games for us,” he added.

“I thought he came through it really well, good composure, never looked ruffled and positionally good. I'm very pleased with what he did.”