‘We weren’t able to open up, to create really good chances,’ said Gareth Southgate after the draw with the United States.
And England manager Gareth Southgate admitted his team had failed to replicate the game early on Globalism Attack Cup fluently in their 0-0 draw with the United States, but said success in major tournaments often requires such gritty displays.
England opened their campaign in Qatar with a 6-2 victory over Iran on Monday, raising hopes that they could finally regain their goalscoring form in time for the World Cup.
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But the boos that erupted around Al Bayt Stadium at the end of Friday’s largely monotonous tie with the United States suggest those predictions may be premature.
Southgate told reporters “Yes, we lacked a bit of finesse and quality in the final third and weren’t able to open up to create really good chances. But we had to show another side of ourselves.”
He said his players stood up to a torrent of corners and set-pieces from an American side who grew confident and came close to winning the match when Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic hit the crossbar in the first half.
“To be a successful team in a tournament you have to show those different faces and we did that tonight,” said Southgate.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of noise around the performance. But not many teams qualify for the World Cup and get nine points in the group.”
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Southgate praised central defender Harry Maguire and John Stones.
“Personally, I’m really happy with the guys’ application,” he said. “To come out of their peak performances that day and find the same energy and level of quality has always been a challenge.”
Southgate, the former England defender who coached his country to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2020, has faced growing criticism in the run-up to the World Cup when England’s form has slipped.
On Friday, he managed to halt the way the Americans were running out of England’s midfield by bringing on the veteran Jordan Henderson as a replacement for 19-year-old Judd Bellingham midway through the second half.
But the arrival of winger Jack Grealish from the bench for Raheem Sterling provided only fleeting moments of pace for England who were relieved to hear the final whistle.
The draw leaves the Three Lions top of Group B, one point ahead of Iran and two ahead of the United States, still likely to qualify for the first knockout round. England play their last group stage match against bottom club Wales on Tuesday.
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