Southgate praises unique England ability after stating aspirations


England manager Gareth Southgate insisted England did well to withstand their period of suffering against Belgium, while skipper Jordan Henderson and matchwinner Mason Mount reacted to the crucial victory.

The Three Lions returned to the summit of group A2 of the UEFA Nations League with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over number one ranked Belgium.

Roberto Martinez’s men quickly established control in the early going, but could only plunder one goal despite their overwhelming weight of chances and posession.

Southgate was ecstatic with his side’s ability to endure the suffering without wilting, and revealed that he hopes his England side can soon attain Belgium’s consistently high levels of performance.

He told Sky Sports: “It was a top level game. We had a lot of young players there for whom that was a really great experience.

“Belgium are a top side and we knew the questions they would ask us down the sides. In the first half, they overloaded us in wide areas and they caused us problems.

“We had to see that spell through and we had the resilience to do that. You have to suffer to win these big games and the players did that.

“The penalty gave us a foothold and our second half performance was so compact without the ball. In these games, you can’t just play with the ball. Against the very best, the detail of how you defend has to be bang on.”

On quietening Romelu Lukaku after half time: “We were getting caught in transition and he was getting balls played straight into him.

Lukaku Belgium TEAMtalk

FULL MATCH REPORT: Mount persistence pays off as England snatch unlikely Belgium victory

“We shouldn’t have got caught on the penalty. We should have been positionally better. But to ride that storm and to respond how we did was really impressive.”

On the future: “We’ve got loads that we can get better on. We’re not carried away by this win and need to back it up against Denmark.

“The quality of our opponent is what we aspire to on a consistent basis.”


Mount, Henderson react to crucial victory

Mount became the fourth England star to score their first goal for England in the last four days.

Following in the footsteps of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Conor Coady and Danny Ings, Mount said: “It’s a special achievement to score my first goal at Wembley, I found myself in a bit of space and had only one thing on my mind.

“It took a really big deflection but it doesn’t matter how they go in. I’ll take it.”

Mount England TEAMtalk

England weather a Belgian storm in the early going, but insisted England always believes they could fix the issues their opponents were causing.

“We were hanging in there at half time, at 1-1,” Mount added. “But we knew we could regroup and fix the problems we were having.

“We tried to stay higher and win the ball back as quickly as we could. We didn’t want them having a lot of the ball in our half. So we tried to keep the ball better and create chances. We had a couple of chances and it worked.”

England’s winning goal came from the spot after Timothy Castagne conceded a soft looking penalty after pulling Jordan Henderson down inside the box.

Barely able to hold back his smile when asked about the incident, the Liverpool skipper said: “I got in front of my man and I felt him pull me back on my shoulder. I felt it was a penalty!”