Southgate hails strike duo

Published: Saturday 11th October 2014 by The News Editor

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England Under-21 manager Gareth Southgate hailed strikers Saido Berahino and Harry Kane after their goals gave his side the edge in their European Championship play-off against Croatia.

England came from behind in the first leg of the qualifier at Molineux with in-form West Brom forward Berahino netting a decisive penalty five minutes from time.

Tottenham forward Kane had levelled the tie just before the hour after Marko Livaja had headed Croatia in front from a corner after 13 minutes.

Their goals mean England will now carry a slender lead into the second leg in Vinkovci next Tuesday, when a place in next summer’s finals will be at stake.

Southgate said: “It is a really good moment for both of them. When you select the team you look at players in form and who can exploit that moment.

“Both of them are a real threat. They get chances and you expect them to finish. That is the level we are at.

“I strongly believe we can go to Croatia and score but we have got to manage the game in every aspect when we are there.”

Berahino’s strike maintained his rich spell of form after scoring five in his last three games for the Baggies.

The 21-year-old’s performances have made him a candidate for full international honours and he and his team-mates were congratulated by visiting senior boss Roy Hodgson in the dressing room after the game.

Southgate said: “He said ‘well done’. He recognised it had been a game against a good side. He was impressed with both teams and the way we handled it.

“We are all conscious it is going to be a great challenge when we go there but one where we are firm in our belief we can come through.”

Hodgson’s team, who beat San Marino 5-0 on Thursday, play their next Euro 2016 qualifier in Estonia on Sunday.

Southgate joked when asked at his post-match press conference if Hodgson had left the dressing room taking Berahino with him.

“Well, I’ve left him in there with him…,” Southgate said, feigning a look of horror.

Southgate felt his side had come through a stern test of character after falling behind to a Croatia team who looked comfortable in possession and created some good chances.

He said: “We spoke about that scenario, because very often it is the elephant in the room, you never talk about going behind in games and how you are going to deal with it.

“We know how we can play when we have been a goal ahead and how we cope with that, but that is a different sort of test.

“When you want something in life, very often it is not straightforward to get it.

“I am delighted with the character to come from a goal behind and the intelligence with which we have done it.

“But we will have to show that all again on Tuesday because we will be tested in every area of the game.”

Southgate revealed Burnley’s Michael Keane would be doubtful for the second leg after being taken off at half-time with a hamstring injury. Derby midfielder Will Hughes will also be assessed after suffering an ankle injury in the second half.

Published: Saturday 11th October 2014 by The News Editor

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