Sunday, July 21, 2024

Southgate’s England find belief with last-gasp win over Slovakia


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London, July 2: Gareth Southgate says England know they “should be better than they have been” at Euro 2024 but their late last-16 win over Slovakia has given them belief.
The Three Lions were on the brink of an embarrassing exit before Jude Bellingham scored a spectacular overhead kick to level in stoppage time.
Harry Kane scored the winner in extra time to set up a quarter-final meeting with Switzerland on Saturday.
“There’s no question it will give the whole group belief,” said Southgate.
“We know we should be better than we’ve been but we’ve ended up with a lot of young players in important positions and trying to solve problems right the way through the four weeks of the camp.“But the standout is the way the players are dealing with it. Their togetherness, their spirit.”England’s laboured performance against Slovakia was preceded by an equally underwhelming group stage, though they did progress as group winners.
Southgate has drawn comparisons with the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96, where England also made slow starts before reaching the semi-finals.
“Everybody now, 30 years on, looks back at [Euro] 96, that I played in, in a different way to how it was at the time,” said Southgate, who missed the decisive penalty against Germany in the semi-final at Wembley.
“We were bang average against Switzerland, we were the same against Scotland. Scotland missed a penalty at 1-0. Spain should have beaten us in a 0-0 draw.
“1990 was similar, so you do go through these moments in tournaments.”
Southgate has also praised “excellent” quarter-final opponents Switzerland, who are ranked 19 in the world and knocked out holders Italy in the last round.
“They have had some consistency in what they do for a long time. Their system is difficult to press. They’ve got good rotation,” he said.
“Once they’ve been ahead they’ve been really difficult to break down, so they are a very good side.”
As England prepare for their quarter-final clash with Switzerland, the team’s newfound belief could be the catalyst they need to push forward. Southgate’s squad has demonstrated resilience and unity, crucial traits for navigating the latter stages of the tournament. With the echoes of past tournaments as both caution and inspiration, the
Three Lions aim to transform their potential into performance, knowing that overcoming the Swiss challenge could pave the way for a deep run at Euro 2024.
The upcoming match against Switzerland will be a true test of England’s mettle. As Southgate and his team work to iron out their inconsistencies, the pressure to perform will be immense. However, the last-minute heroics against Slovakia have reignited hope and galvanized the squad. (Agencies)


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