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Saturday 14 December 2019

Southgate concerns over defence

Kosovo 0  England 4

Harry Kane. Pic: Reuters
Harry Kane. Pic: Reuters

After a qualifying campaign that produced a whopping 37 goals in eight games and six conceded, it would seem harsh to criticise England but manager Gareth Southgate recognises that defensive blips could cost his team dear at the Euro 2020 finals.

Captain Harry Kane scored a remarkable 12th goal of the campaign, the most across Europe, as England beat Kosovo 4-0 away yesterday to secure one of the top six seeded berths for the tournament and maintain an average of over four goals a game.

Other than their 2-1 defeat in the Czech Republic last month, England have barely broken sweat in swatting aside the likes of Kosovo, Montenegro, Bulgaria and even the also-qualified Czechs - who they beat 5-0 at Wembley.

Southgate is awash with attacking options and in midfield but he will be paying much more attention to the other side of things after Kosovo, like Montenegro on Thursday, were gifted a number of opportunities through slack marking or poor organisation that better teams would undoubtedly have taken.

"We needed a tighter game and a challenge and I'm happy we got that," said Southgate, whose side beat Kosovo 5-3 at Wembley in a wildly open match in September.

EURO 2020 qualifier

 

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