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Gareth Southgate: More to come from England after topping Euro 2020 group

·3-min read

Gareth Southgate says there is “more to come” from England after they ensured a tough-looking Wembley return in the round of 16 by beating the Czech Republic to top their Euro 2020 group.

Having opened with a 1-0 triumph against World Cup semi-final foes Croatia and been booed at the end of Friday’s 0-0 draw against rivals Scotland, the Three Lions wrapped things up with a Wembley win on Tuesday night.

Raheem Sterling headed home impressive Jack Grealish’s cross to seal a 1-0 victory against the Czechs as already-qualified England progressed as Group D winners.

Czech Republic v England – UEFA Euro 2020 – Group D – Wembley Stadium
Raheem Sterling, right, scored the goal to ensure Gareth Southgate’s England side topped their Euro 2020 group (Mike Egerton/PA)

The reward is a Wembley return next Tuesday against France, Germany, Portugal or Hungary – a big jump in quality after progressing unbeaten and without conceding.

“We’ve played two opponents in the Croats and the Czechs who I think are playing at a very good level,” Southgate said after setting up the last-16 tie against the runners-up in the so-called Group of Death.

“And Scotland, which as an occasion and an experience for our players, especially the younger ones, was a quite unique and really important one, so these will be different games.

“We know world champions, European champions and Germany, who to me look like they’re back on song. They’ve brought some very experienced players back in.

Euro 2020 round of 16 fixtures
Euro 2020 round of 16 fixtures (PA Graphics)

“So whoever we play, (will be a) really, really tough opposition but we’ve sort of known that for 18 months. We’ve known the route through.

“The good thing from our point of view is I think we’re still improving, we look difficult to play against. There’s more to come from us.

Watch: England top Group D and qualify for Euro 2020 knockout stage

“We’ve got more match minutes on the pitch for some important players and that squad depth is going to be important because I felt like we’ve run out of steam a little bit in a couple of the games.

“To be able to make the changes and the substitutions has been really helpful to manage the games.”

The side has plenty to work on ahead of next week’s knockout clash, though there are also positives to take from the Group D decider.

Czech Republic v England – UEFA Euro 2020 – Group D – Wembley Stadium
Harry Maguire returned from injury with a fine performance (Nick Potts/PA)

Harry Maguire put in an encouraging performance as he returned from a six-week lay-off with an ankle injury, while Jordan Henderson played another 45 minutes after undergoing groin surgery in February.

Playmaker Grealish looked sharp as he started his first major tournament match, while 19-year-old Bukayo Saka produced a man-of-the-match display as he stepped out on this stage for the first time.

“Jack produced a fabulous cross for the goal,” said Southgate, who had to deal with Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell going into isolation in a challenging build-up.

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“We saw some of the interchange of positions of those forward players was really exciting, I thought at the start of the game especially. We tired a little bit but we knew that because one or two are a little bit short of fitness.

“Bukayo, I can’t speak highly enough of him. He’s earned that opportunity.

“His performances in training since he’s joined this camp have been outstanding.

“He played well in the game at the Riverside. We’ve talked about playing him in some of the previous matches and, yeah, he earned that chance tonight and he’s grabbed it. He was fabulous.”

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