‘Out­stand­ing’ de­fen­sive dis­play hailed by South­gate

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Matt Law

Gareth South­gate hailed his Eng­land lion­hearts af­ter they made it suc­ces­sive goal­less draws against the teams ranked first and sec­ond in the world, Ger­many and Brazil.

Sub­sti­tute Fer­nand­inho hit the post for Brazil, but Eng­land man­aged to keep an­other clean sheet thanks to im­pres­sive per­for­mances from John Stones, full debu­tant Joe Gomez and goal­keeper Joe Hart.

Eng­land man­ager South­gate de­clared him­self even more pleased with the draw against Brazil than he had been with the re­sult against Ger­many last Fri­day.

“They were two com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­for­mances,” said South­gate. “On Fri­day night, we used the ball re­ally well, tonight we looked anx­ious with the ball as a con­se­quence of Brazil’s threat.

“But the de­fen­sive per­for­mance, the re­silience and spirit were ab­so­lutely out­stand­ing. I’m prob­a­bly more proud of tonight against what I think is the best team in the world, full team out. We’ve come out with a re­ally cred­itable re­sult and found so many pos­i­tives. As a group what they have given will stand them in good stead.

“They are the best two teams in the world be­cause they have been built over a pe­riod of time. Their ex­pe­ri­ence is way ahead of ours, so we are hav­ing to ap­proach things dif­fer­ently. Brazil are pretty close to the fin­ished ar­ti­cle and we are at a dif­fer­ent point in our jour­ney.”

On the de­fence in par­tic­u­lar, South­gate added: “The back three were all ex­cel­lent. Joe Gomez got man of the match and rightly so. John Stones in two games has shown his de­fen­sive at­tributes, taken pride in de­fend­ing and that’s a sig­nif­i­cant step for him. And Harry (Maguire) has been a real plus. He grew in con­fi­dence and grew into his game.

“They will not face more dif­fi­cult tests. The sys­tem has worked well, we have lim­ited both teams to very few clear-cut chances and could have pinched the game with the chances at the end. We could have put young play­ers in and got beaten by four, but we didn’t.

“We have backed up the best de­fen­sive record in Euro­pean qual­i­fy­ing by keep­ing clean sheets against the best teams in the world.”

Hav­ing blooded a num­ber of young play­ers over the two games, South­gate be­lieves Eng­land are now re­gain­ing the back­ing of the coun­try’s foot­ball fans.

“We will take huge be­lief in what we have done,” said South­gate. “I think and hope the English pub­lic have seen these boys have given ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing.”

Im­pressed: Gareth South­gate thinks this draw was even bet­ter than the one with Ger­many

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