England character impresses Southgate

Gareth Southgate

Manager Gareth Southgate praised England’s “character to come back” and secure a 2-2 draw in their World Cup qualifier against Scotland at Hampden.

England led 1-0 with three minutes left, but needed an injury-time equaliser from Harry Kane after Leigh Griffiths almost clinched a Scottish win with two late free-kicks.

Southgate told BBC Radio 5 live: “I’ve seen teams fold in those moments.

“We showed the mentality shift we needed.”

He added: “I was pleased with how we dealt with a difficult atmosphere.”

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The result keeps England top of Group F but Scotland’s chances of qualifying for Russia 2018 hang in the balance, as they are six points further back in fourth.

Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s close-range finish after 70 minutes looked to have secured the victory before Celtic’s Griffiths scored two magnificent free-kicks in short succession – the second in the 90th minute – to put Gordon Strachan’s side in contention for a famous victory.

Kane’s goal in the third minute of added time rescued a point, but the late loss of concentration was reminiscent of last November’s friendly against Spain, when England squandered a 2-0 lead by conceding in the 89th and 96th minutes.

“In the past I’ve seen players lie on the floor, sink to their knees and look as if they’ve been beaten,” said Southgate.

“That wasn’t the case, the body language was good. We should never be beaten and we showed the character to get an important point.

“For 80 minutes, we controlled the game. We moved it really well but in the final third our final ball wasn’t quite what it might have been.”

England face France on Tuesday in a friendly at the Stade de France.

Analysis

Danny Mills – former England defender

“The whole England team lacked a little bit of sharpness for me. That three weeks without a game really showed.

“There will be some players who don’t really want to be there. They have had a long, hard season and they just want to be on holiday with their families.”

What the papers say

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