Southgate satisfied with England’s progress

England 2-1 Nigeria – Reaction

Brian Jeeves Reporting from Wembley Stadium

Football is nearly back upon us but in the meantime one more trip back in time. Just over two years ago, Yellow Sport oversaw England’s preparations ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The Three Lions faced a talented Nigerian side at Wembley Stadium, themselves keen to impress on the big stage…

GARETH SOUTHGATE was reasonably satisfied with his England sides toil as a rugged Nigeria side were edged out by two goals to one in a competitive FIFA World Cup warm-up match at Wembley Stadium.

Goals from Gary Cahill and skipper, Harry Kane, gave the Three Lions a comfortable two-goal advantage at the break. However, Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi reduced the arrears immediately after the interval as the visitors offered an altogether tougher contest to their hosts.

Summarising the match, Southgate said: “Firstly, yes, really pleased with the first half. I thought it was an excellent performance with the ball – really good movement and interchange between the front four. We managed to overload the midfield and whenever Raheen and Harry came short, Dele and Jesse made some fantastic runs in behind. We didn’t always find them, didn’t always see them, but there was a lot of unselfish one and two-touch play and that really pleased me. 

“We also won the ball back really quickly, and I thought we played from the back with good composure. That was as good a half as we’ve had I think.”

The England chief continued: “The second half, it would be easy to say we were complacent. I don’t think that was the case. It took us seven or eight minutes to get to grips with their change of system – they obviously made four substitutions, went to a back three – we didn’t quite work out their midfield quickly enough.”

When asked if he was any nearer knowing his starting eleven for their opening World Cup match with Tunisia, Southgate said: “I think we’ve been pretty clear for a fair while. There is real competition for places in certain areas of the pitch. Everybody has to maintain the level.

“The team we picked today, my experience of the weeks leading into a tournament and then the first couple of games of the tournament – is that it will evolve because of different things. Everybody has got to be ready to come into the side. I wouldn’t necessarily say that that was the side today that starts against Tunisia, but clearly, it wouldn’t be far away.” 

Brian Jeeves

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