England boss Gareth Southgate reflects on another big win, but aims for improvement

Sunday 17 Nov 2019
England manager Gareth Southgate saw his side end their qualifying campaign with a win in Kosovo

England manager Gareth Southgate acknowledged his side’s “ruthless” edge as they completed their European Qualifiers with another high-scoring result.

The Three Lions romped home to a 4-0 victory over Kosovo in their final Group A match, thanks to goals from Harry Winks, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount.

It means England end their eight-game campaign with a total of 37 goals, a goalscoring record for England in a qualifying campaign.

And the Three Lions manager was pleased with the outcome and the challenge that he saw his team face in Pristina.

“I think it was a tight game and good test for us really, on a difficult pitch, with lots of slipping and that meant a few passes went astray,” he said.

“But we needed a tighter game and it was the sort of challenge I was happy we got.

“We had to withstand spells of pressure and we gave them a few half-chances, which on another night would be more of a problem, but in the end out counter attacking was ruthless.”

Having now played their final game of 2020, England now head into the new year knowing they will only have two games in March to look at things ahead of the UEFA EURO 2020 Finals next summer.

And Southgate admits he knows where his side need to improve as they bid for success on home soil.

“The set plays in particular are something we need to go away and look at,” he added.

“Not that we’ve conceded tonight, but there’s been too many people free in the box and chances given away.

“We’re always looking to improve and we know there’s still a bit of work to do, but I can’t fault the players for what they’ve done in this qualifying campaign as they’ve been absolutely ruthless.”

The result, along with Thursday’s 7-0 win against Montenegro, came on the back of a difficult start to the week with the situation around Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez.

“I think you have to work through any difficulties that you might have and the whole group have done that really well,” he added.

“We come out of this stronger than when we started it, honestly.

“We’re further ahead in being more settled as a group, with players knowing our principles of play. We wanted to learn a few more things tonight, which we certainly did.”

By Nicholas Veevers