Tuesday, July 23, 2024

ENGLAND: Another drab outing


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COLOGNE, Germany, June 26: England moved into Euro 2024’s last 16 at the top of Group C – but it was only achieved after another drab display with a draw against Slovenia in Cologne.
Gareth Southgate’s side offered up slightly more than in the abysmal performance against Denmark but once again it was nowhere good enough to justify England’s status as pre-tournament favourites.They were laboured and only showed quality in flashes, namely in the first half when a slick passing move ended with Bukayo Saka’s goal being ruled out for offside.
For the second game in a row, England felt real hostility from supporters who backed them magnificently during the game but made their feelings clear after the final whistle.
After boos at the break, supporters let Southgate know what they thought when he went to applaud them at the end, with a couple of empty drinks cups aimed his way from the stands.Conor Gallagher failed to justify his inclusion and was replaced at half-time, with the introduction of Manchester United teenager Kobbie Mainoo providing more urgency after the break.England were also short on creativity in a group where no team scored more than one goal in a game for the first time in the competition’s history.Denmark’s 0-0 draw with Serbia means they finish second and Slovenia qualify as one of the best third-placed teams.It was a good night in other respects for England, with results elsewhere meaning the dangerous quartet of France, Spain, Germany and Portugal have dropped into the other side of the draw.
England’s last-16 opponents are currently the Netherlands – but that could change after the final round of matches.Mainoo’s introduction after only 45 minutes highlighted a serious problem at the heart of Southgate’s England team.
Declan Rice’s third midfield partner in just two-and-a-half games after the experiment of using Trent Alexander-Arnold was ditched and Gallagher failed to justify his selection with a disappointing display.
Mainoo at least injected some life into this England display but it was the third game in a row at Euro 2024 when they have fallen well short. (Agencies)


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