Gareth Southgate ‘really pleased’ with USA World Cup performance as he tempers expectations



England manager Gareth Southgate praised his England side despite drawing 0-0 against the United States in what was a flat World Cup group stage performance.

The England manager said that the Three Lions can’t expect to “roll through” the tournament and “sweep everybody”.

Hopes were high for the Three Lions after they dismantled Iran 6-2 in a dominant opening display earlier in the week.

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However against an obdurate and positive USMNT, they created fewer chances and were put under more pressure at the back.

Southgate, however, said he was unsurprised by the drop-off in performance compared to the display against Iran, and was content with a point.

Some observers such as Roy Keane, Ian Wright and Gary Neville thought that England looked tired and that Southgate had made an error in not starting Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden, but Southgate remained undimmed.

“It was exactly the sort of game I thought it would be,” he said after the draw to ITV. “A good opponent who were very athletic. I knew it would be difficult after such a high to replicate that type of performance, so I’m really pleased how the players applied themselves.

“Some of the quality in the final third could have been a little bit better, but we’ve shown great resilience to defend against opponents who kept asking questions. “

Southgate believed that the different approach from the game’s opponents meant that his team had to display different skills in order to, if not win, then avoid defeat.

“We controlled the game well from the back, but were just not able to open up with that clear-cut chance. We didn’t quite have the same zip, but that’s going to happen.

“This is tournament football, we’re not going to roll through a tournament, and sweep through everybody without having nights like that, when you’ve got to show different qualities to get the result.”

Southgate expected an improvement in the third and final group against Wales, who lost the group’s earlier game 2-0 to Iran.

He added: “It will be a totally different game against Wales. Silver medal today was a point. It puts us in a really strong position in terms of qualification. If we can win our last game, we win the group.”

England have four points after two games, and remain top of their group, meaning they are now strong favourites to progress to the knockout stages.

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