Netherlands 3-1 England (aet): Gareth Southgate defends John Stones after error and says Three Lions will NOT

my choice

Stones’ error on the edge of his own box began England’s extra-time downfall against Ronald Koeman’s side in the Nations League semi-final

Gareth Southgate has no plans to change England’s style of play despite mistakes at the back resulting in a defeat to the Netherlands in Thursday’s Nations League semi-final.

John Stones’ error on the edge of his own box began the Three Lions’ extra-time downfall in Guimaraes, with Kyle Walker putting the ball in his own net after his Manchester City team-mate cheaply gave away possession.

Stones kept hold of the ball for far too long, and such a poor decision cost England dearly

getty

Stones kept hold of the ball for far too long, and such a poor decision cost England dearly

Quincy Promes rounded off the Dutch’s 3-1 victory soon after, as Ross Barkley played him in with a dreadful backpass, but Stones’ error was the turning point.

Nonetheless, he retains the backing of Southgate – who also promised there would be no compromises on England’s decision to play out from the back.

“I think we’ve had some players who, at the end of the season, have found it difficult in terms of amount of minutes on the pitch – and others having the complete opposite,” said Southgate.

“I think fatigue has played a part tonight, a lack of match sharpness. I’m asking them to play in a way that puts them under huge pressure at the back.

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“If we didn’t play that way, we wouldn’t have got to the semi-finals we’ve got to, and we would never progress to being a top team because you saw the way Holland played that way as well.

“They also made a really poor error at the back. But I have got to be there to support John because he’s going to get criticism after tonight.

“But himself and Harry [Maguire], the way we ask them to play, they take huge strain of the game on their shoulders and they’re incredibly courageous to do that.

“So, that’s the way I believe they can play and we should play, and we didn’t lose because of how we wanted to play. The errors were uncharacteristic, really, and not errors that we would make.

“I’ve got to not overreact to those things and I have got to be there to support them in what is a difficult moment for everybody.”

Ross Barkley made his own mistake soon after Stones to help the Netherlands increase their lead

Getty

Ross Barkley made his own mistake soon after Stones to help the Netherlands increase their lead

England headed into the match hoping to face Portugal in Sunday’s final and looked on course for a shot at their first trophy in 53 years as Southgate’s side reacted well to Matthijs De Ligt cancelling out Marcus Rashford’s first-half penalty.

Jesse Lingard thought he had filled the role of super-sub as he coolly turned home in the 83rd minute but joy quickly turned to despair as the Video Assistant Referee ruled out the strike for a narrow offside.

The frustration continued to grow as extra-time came around, however, with the two mistakes ensuring England remain without a final appearance since 1966.

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Southgate went on to explain the reasoning behind his decision to leave all seven players involved in last Saturday’s Champions League final on the bench.

Liverpool trio Jordan Henderson, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold were joined in the dugout by Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Danny Rose of Tottenham.

“In terms of the individual players, they weren’t ready to start the game,” he added. “We wanted some young players to have the experience of a night like tonight, and they deserve that experience because they’ve been playing well.

“You can look in hindsight at some of those decisions, but we started and finished with the right people on the pitch.”