Southgate says England U21s deserved win over Sweden

Sunday 21 Jun 2015
Southgate felt his side were worthy of their 1-0 win over Sweden

England Under-21s boss Gareth Southgate praised his side's strength and resilience after they scored a late winner to keep their European Championship hopes alive.

The Three Lions struck five minutes from time against Sweden in Olomouc, with Jesse Lingard finding the net with a brilliant volley.

The victory puts Southgate's side back in the hunt to qualify for the semi-finals of the tournament and the head coach praised his players for never giving up in a difficult match.

Sweden 0-1 England

UEFA European U21 Championship
Group B
Sunday 21 June 2015
Olomouc, Czech Republic

"We obviously needed that win to get us the points on the board, but then I think we played better against Portugal," said Southgate.

"But today, we showed tremendous resilience. We held our nerve. We said to the players it might take 60 or 70 minutes and in the end it was longer.

"But we didn't change the way that we played too much, we still tried to keep pressing, probing and creating chances.

"In the end, it was one outstanding piece of skill that won it. I think we got the win we deserved in terms of general play and the control of it."

That outstanding piece of skill came from substitute Lingard of Manchester United, who was taken out of the starting line-up from the first game for Tottenham's Alex Pritchard.

And Southgate admitted he could have started either player but Lingard's late impact merely showed the importance of having individuals on the bench who can make an impression during the tournament.

"It was maybe a bit harsh because he has been very sharp, not only in the first game but also in training," added Southgate.

"But I had a feeling for Alex [Pritchard] and thought he could cause a threat. We knew that the last 30 minutes would be really important.

"Our subs had an impact and that has to happen. I thought we looked a little bit leggy but the pitch was slow, that meant the ball was a bit sticky.

"We needed to shift the ball about more because with Sweden set up as they were, you have got to move it around to unsettle them.

"In the end it was Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] who gave us an increase in pace from the middle, he had that freedom to go and play."

The win over Sweden was England's first at the European U21 Championship for six years and Southgate confessed it was good for his young players to answer their critics.

"That was always going to be something that would be thrown at us after the first game. I am pleased we have answered it and I am pleased for the players," said Southgate.

"We have a foothold in the tournament now and it's in our hands. But there's still a lot to do. We are confident, we were confident before today's game.

"We knew it would be tough to break Sweden down because they had the buoyancy of three points.

"But we have got there and it's all in our hands now."

By FA Staff