England manager, Gareth Southgate has praised his “incredible” squad for achieving qualification for UEFA Euro 2024.
Harry Kane’s brace plus a 57th minute strike from Marcus Rashford saw England come from behind to beat Italy 3-1 at Wembley and secure qualification for next summer’s Euros, having fell behind to Gianluca Scamacca’s 15th minute tap-in.
The result also meant that the Three Lions won their qualifying group for an eighth consecutive time – since they failed to qualify for UEFA Euro 2008.
Speaking post-match about his team’s improved performance from a sloppy friendly win over Australia, Southgate commented: “The players are incredible to work with, I have to say. They are so hungry, so eager to learn, so together and you saw that in the performance tonight.”
Southgate went on to discuss the squad’s mental attitude especially after they fell behind, as he continued:
“We talked before the game about mentality being the biggest thing in those big matches and maybe you have to come through setbacks, but you have to be relentless, and I thought the performance was relentless tonight.
“What was really pleasing was that when we went behind we stayed calm. I thought we used the ball really calmly from the back. There have been moments in the bigger games where we have lost possession too easily.”
Kane, Rashford and Phil Foden in particular drew praise for their work rate as Southgate added: “Our front players worked unbelievably for the team – Marcus Rashford I don’t know how much ground he covered, Phil Foden, Harry Kane.
“When your front players are doing that kind of work it’s a brilliant sign for the team.”
Having finished runners-up at UEFA Euro 2020, Southgate hailed his midfield as the biggest difference in the team’s rising progress with “more legs” which has ensured “more physicality.”
Explaining how his midfield has evolved in the last two years, Southgate concluded: “You have got to be outstanding with and without the ball, and against teams that build in different patterns. We have got to be flexible and that is what our wide players and midfield did very well tonight.”