Premier League

Gareth Southgate claims surprise Iceland defeat ‘good’ for England’s Euro 2024 hopes

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ivan Toney and Joe Gomez, Gareth Southgate, Bukayo Saka

England head coach Gareth Southgate admitted his side’s performance in their 1-0 defeat to Iceland was ‘disappointing’, but there are reasons to be positive in spite of the loss.

The Three Lions registered only one shot on target in a flat affair at Wembley on Friday night, with Jon Thorsteinsson scoring the game’s only goal early in the first half. England will now head to this summer’s European Championships off the back of a run of only one win in five games.

Speaking to Channel 4 post-match, Southgate revealed his thoughts on England’s preparations this week, including this defeat as well as Monday’s 3-0 win against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“It was obviously a disjointed and disappointing performance and we didn’t show enough character but I think it’s good for us before an international tournament,” Southgate said.

“I think we’ve got to be better without the ball. I think that there were a lot of reasons for that and across the two games we probably haven’t had our full side out across any two games. We’ve been able to look at people, we’ve been able to learn about the balance of the team.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of last matches leading into a tournament. Inevitably players have one eye on what’s coming in terms of early challenges. No excuses on the result but there are a lot of things we can put right quickly.”

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ivan Toney and Joe Gomez, Gareth Southgate, Bukayo Saka

Southgate couldn’t find a winning formula against Iceland / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

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He added: “We didn’t get pressing right and we were too stretched without the ball. There were questions we were not able to answer. If your out of possession game isn’t right it can make it feel like you don’t have a foothold on the game.

“We’ll be ready. Tonight hasn’t gone as we would have hoped. I said to the players that not every day will go as you want and tonight was one of those. But also not everything will be wrong, we had enough chances really to win the game but we conceded too many chances as well.”

England kick off their Euro 2024 campaign against Serbia on June 24 in Gelsenkirchen. They will then round off the group stage with games against Denmark and Slovenia.


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