Southgate defends ‘excellent’ England; reveals who should be ‘delighted’

Gareth Southgate insisted that England were “excellent” against Belgium in their UEFA Nations League game, despite losing 2-0.

England’s hopes of progressing to the final stages of the Nations League came to an end after goals from Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens.

England had twice as many shots as their opponents, but few of those were directed on target. Therefore, it was ultimately a frustrating day for the Three Lions.

Manager Southgate, however, still found a way to focus on the positives.

He told Sky Sports: “We don’t like losing, but enormous credit to the team, all the way through they created problems and defended resiliently.

“I thought we were excellent. I couldn’t have enough praise for the players.

“We had a different profile of players but in those positions I thought Jack Grealish had an absolutely outstanding game. Losing Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford, we lose a lot of speed.

“But I can’t fault the attacking play until the last chance. We created far more opportunities than we did at Wembley.

“If you play at the level we did tonight, I think we will win more games than we lose.”

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Grealish was ‘oustanding’

As Southgate hinted at, Grealish impressed on his first competitive start in an England shirt. Southgate went on to elaborate further on what stood out about his performance.

He said: “I saw what I knew I would see from Jack, someone with the bravery to play. He took the ball in tight areas, his technique was good, we knew he would buy a lot of free-kicks.

“I thought he was outstanding, he should be delighted. I explained to him what we wanted to see when we brought him in in September.

“Today was a great game for us to see him in. I couldn’t speak highly enough of his performance.”

Read the match report from the game here…