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Gareth Southgate pinpoints area England must improve on for potential France clash


Gareth Southgate believes his England side have shown “moments” throughout the group stage to prove they’re capable of winning the tournament, but knows they will need to improve in one specific area to progress. Raheem Sterling grabbed his second goal of the tournament to hand England all three points and book their spot in the Euro 2020 round of 16 with France, Germany or Portugal potentially up next.

It’s now three clean sheets in as many games for England when some thought Southgate’s defence would be a worry heading into the tournament.

But there has been some criticism at England having only managed to score two goals in the tournament so far.

Harry Kane hasn’t looked his best with the Tottenham striker struggling to get in goalscoring opportunities.

Southgate suggests that goals were never going to be easy to score against the Czech Republic.

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However, he wants to see his side improve from set pieces for their round of 16 tie next week at Wembley.

“I think the Czechs are a really good side,” Southgate said.

“They use the ball very well, they’re difficult to break down. I think there’s more to come from us.

“We haven’t scored from a set-play yet which, I know people laughed about ‘it’s only scoring from set plays’ but they’re crucial in big matches so we’ve got to get those nailed.

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“But we’re not fluent but we are are having moments where we look a good side.”

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Bukayo Saka came in for his first start for England in a major tournament at the age of just 19.

And Southgate was hugely impressed with the teenager’s performance.

“We’ve been super impressed with Bukayo throughout the whole month and he was excellent up at Middlesbrough,” he said.

“We’ve really liked him with and without the ball and, tonight, his receiving under pressure was fantastic.”

England set the tempo early on with both Jack Grealish and Saka impressing from the off.

Sterling had a great chance just minutes after kick off to score the opener after Tomas Vaclik came off his line with the Manchester City lobbing the ball over his head, only for it to rebound off the post.

But he didn’t have to wait too long for his second goal of the tournament after Saka drove with the ball from his own half.

The Arsenal star skipped past multiple challenges before breaking into the box with a dink towards the back post.

Grealish picked up the ball and dropped his shoulder to create enough space to dink the ball back towards where Saka delivered.

The teenager made a darting run to the centre of the goal though, giving Sterling the room to break off unmarked to the back post where he headed in from close range.

Czech Republic pushed for an equaliser and tested Jordan Pickford, who pulled off a fine save to keep his clean sheet.

England rode the small wave of pressure though before taking full control of the match.

Chances may have been few and far between for England, but Sterling’s goal proved enough to secure top spot and ensure they play against at Wembley in the next round.

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