Southgate satisfied with narrow win

Published: Thursday 11th June 2015 by The News Editor

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England Under-21s manager Gareth Southgate believes his side’s laboured 1-0 win over 10-man Belarus was the perfect preparation for next week’s European Championships.

The Young Lions were victorious in their final warm-up game ahead of the tournament in the Czech Republic thanks to Ben Gibson’s 83rd-minute winner at Oakwell.

Despite a plethora of Barclays Premier League stars in their starting line-up and coming off the bench, including Harry Kane, Southgate’s men struggled to break down a Belarus side who only arrived in South Yorkshire 25 minutes before kick-off and were reduced to 10 men when Nikolai Zolotov was dismissed for a second yellow card.

It was a dominant display in terms of possession and territory, but a vast improvement will be required if they are to make a splash in the Czech Republic, which gets under way for Southgate’s men against Portugal next Thursday.

But the former Middlesbrough manager was content with his side’s showing.

“We were confident we would get the goal because of the number of late goals we have scored,” he said.

“The way that we play does wear teams down. We have to give them a lot of credit, the way they have defended and the way that their goalkeeper played, on another day you win the game comfortably.

“I think that was good for us, that was the perfect test, they had a bit of threat in the counter attack, it was difficult to break them down. I wouldn’t fault our attitude or approach to the game, I thought it was spot on.

“We just have to keep working the ball and keep working the opening and have the belief that it will come and I think the squad believe that was the case.”

England improved considerably when Kane was introduced on the hour and with his impressive touch, physical presence and pace he looked a class above everyone else on the pitch.

The PFA young player of the year has racked up the air miles recently following his jaunt to Australia on Tottenham’s end-of-season tour, but Southgate insists it was always the plan to use Kane.

“We stuck exactly to our plan apart from kicking off half an hour late,” he added. “We planned to make the substitutions at the times that we did and whatever the scoreline would have been we felt it right to keep to that.

“With the training we had we knew the load we wanted to give people.

“I was also pleased with the attitude and approach of all of the players that came on because, whether it 10 minutes or half an hour, those contributions in the Czech Republic are going to be crucial. There is a job to be done for every player.”

Published: Thursday 11th June 2015 by The News Editor

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