Football

Gareth Southgate insists England were ‘excellent’ in Belgium loss

Gareth Southgate insisted England have not gone backwards after a 2-0 defeat by Belgium yesterday morning (Singapore time) ensured they cannot reach the Nations League Finals next year.

First-half goals from Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens for the world's No. 1-ranked side in Leuven kept Belgium on top of Nations League A, Group 2, five points clear of England, with one game to play.

Southgate's men have now suffered back-to-back competitive defeats for the first time since September 2018.

England dominated for long spells after conceding twice in the opening 24 minutes. But they failed to make it count, with questions asked of Southgate's switch from a 4-3-3 formation that saw the Three Lions score 37 goals in eight games in Euro 2020 qualifying, to a 3-4-3 that has reaped just three goals in five Nations League games.

"Although we don't like losing and didn't want to go out of the competition, the level of performance was excellent," said Southgate.

"I have to focus on performances and, if you get performances right, you will normally win matches.

"I'm really pleased with the progress. In the last two matches, I don't think we've got what we deserved, but those are the fine margins of knockout football." - AFP

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