Monday, January 24

Gareth Southgate urges England to “overcome a bigger obstacle” | Euro 2020

Gareth Southgate urged England to overcome one last hurdle after his team defended themselves from a disadvantaged goal against Denmark and made history by joining Italy in the final of Euro 2020.

England were under pressure after conceding their first goal of the tournament when Mikkel Damsgaard gave Denmark the lead with a good free kick. However, Southgate’s side held their ground on a tense night at Wembley. They tied via an own goal by Simon Kjær and took the lead after Raheem Sterling won a controversial penalty in extra time, allowing Harry Kane to send his country to their first tournament final since the World Cup. 1966.

“I am very proud of the players,” Southgate said. “It is an incredible occasion to be a part of, we knew it would not be easy. We told the players that we will have to show our resilience and come back from some setbacks, and we have done it tonight. Most enjoyable, we’ve given our fans and our nation a fantastic night, and the journey continues for another four days.

“There is a bigger obstacle to try to overcome. Italy is a very good team. They have shown outstanding form and have defensive warriors in the back who have been through it all. It’s something to look forward to ”.

Southgate was pleased with England’s response by conceding his first goal of the tournament. “I felt calm in the run-up to the game because I felt like the players were ready,” he said. “You are never 100% sure how they will react [to conceding first]. But we’ve talked about it and they stayed calm. I didn’t think they held the ball well enough and we have to do better on Sunday. But we found a way to win. “

Southgate praised Kane for scoring the rebound after Kasper Schmeichel saved his penalty. “There is no one you would rather have, but you are facing a great goalkeeper who has obviously faced many times,” said the England manager. “Fortunately, that is now irrelevant.”

There was surprise when Southgate decided to replace Jack Grealish with Kieran Trippier and switch to three at the back before the second half of overtime. Grealish had replaced Bukayo Saka during the second half, but the winger was sacrificed as England looked to protect their advantage.

“We feel like we know how Denmark has fared when it fell behind,” Southgate said. “They basically went 4-2-4. We needed to keep the pressure up front, but have numbers to deal with the balls in the area. We made that decision, not an easy one, but Jack understood it. At the end he said, ‘Gaffer, it didn’t bother me much, we’re in the final.’

Kane was impressed with the way England, who reached their first European Championship final, responded by falling behind.

“We’ve said it all the time, we can talk all we want, it’s about doing it on the field,” said the captain. “It was the first time we were late. We stayed calm. There was no panic. We create some opportunities after that. We managed to achieve the breakthrough. We control the second half well. These games are about character, about digging, about beliefs. We have that in the team ”.

Two balls on Wembley ground shortly before Raheem Sterling won a penalty after a tackle from Joakim Mæhle.
Two balls on Wembley ground shortly before Raheem Sterling won a penalty after a tackle from Joakim Mæhle. Photograph: Kevin Quigley / EURO 2020 Newspaper Fund

Denmark was not happy that there were two balls on the field just before England won the winning penalty, although the referee should stop play only if it interferes with play, which was not the case here.

Kane insisted that Sterling did not dive after being challenged by Joakim Mæhle. “I thought it was a penalty,” said the forward. “I should have had a penalty in the second half as well. That is soccer. Sometimes they go your way, sometimes they don’t. “

Sterling insisted that he had committed a fault. “I went into the area and he stuck out his right leg and touched my leg, so it’s a penalty,” he said.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand was unhappy with the decision to penalize Mæhle. “Losing a game is one thing, but losing this way is a disappointment,” he said. “These guys have fought a lot. It feels bitter. “

Southgate accepted that England had benefited from a moment of fortune. “I saw the ball on the field,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how that would be handled, but I saw a game earlier in England where that happened and the goal was not disallowed. After all, we deserved it. But if you tell me that the penalty was soft, I’ll understand. “

Kane was excited as he looked forward to leading England against Italy on Sunday. “It’s difficult to sum it up in words,” he said. “As a footballer it is about the next. Sometimes it’s really hard to take it all in, to see the crowd, everyone at home watching. Nights like this, you have to be here with the fans.

“We haven’t won anything yet, but you have to enjoy nights like this. But we have one more left. I am proud to be the captain of this team. We are a credit to each other. We are excited for a final in our field ”.

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