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Gareth Southgate questions whether England were booed off in USA draw

Gareth Southgate questions whether England were booed off in USA draw

England manager Gareth Southgate is not convinced that his side were booed off in their drab 0-0 draw with the USA in World Cup 2022 Group B on Friday evening.

Having hit Iran for six in their opening game of the Qatar tournament, expectations were high for an unchanged Three Lions side when they met the Stars and Stripes at the Al Bayt Stadium.

However, Southgate’s men laboured to a point in a flat showing, with the USA holding firm and pressing effectively to stifle the Euro 2020 runners-up on the evening.

Christian Pulisic had the best opportunity of the game in the first half when his effort crashed against the crossbar, as England missed the chance to wrap up qualification for the last 16 with a game to spare.

Boos and jeers were heard at the full-time whistle, which many believed were directed at England’s players, but Southgate has questioned whether that cold reception was indeed aimed at his crop.

USA goalkeeper Matt Turner catches a cross against England on November 25, 2022© Reuters

“Were we booed off? I’m not sure if that was aimed at us. Personally I am really pleased we had the application of the players. A really tough opponent,” Southgate said in his post-game press conference.

“To come off the high of the other day and find the same quality was always going to be a challenge. I thought we controlled the game really well. Our two centre backs were absolutely outstanding with the ball. Yes, we lacked a bit of zip and quality in the final third.

“But we had to show another sign of ourselves without the ball. To be a successful team in the tournament you have to show a lot of faces. I am sure there will be a lot of noise but not a lot of teams get nine points in the group. The players were very down and disappointed but I told them that isn’t how it is going to be over the next few days.”

England rarely worked USA goalkeeper Matt Turner at the Al Bayt Stadium, with Mason Mount forcing the Arsenal man into a low save down to his right at the end of the first half.

Harry Kane then fizzed a header wide in the third minute of second-half injury time, but despite their lack of creativity, Southgate did not call upon Phil Foden from the bench.

Phil Foden warms up for England on November 25, 2022© Reuters

Jack Grealish, Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford were brought on instead to no avail, and Southgate was inevitably asked why he chose not to introduce Manchester City starlet Foden.

The Three Lions highlighted the qualities of Rashford and Grealish to ITV Sport as a means of justifying his decision, saying: “We thought it was the right thing to keep the team from the start.

“The wide players we went with Marcus [Rashford] and Jack [Grealish] instead of Phil [Foden]. We thought Jack would keep the ball well and get the ball up the pitch and we thought Marcus’ speed would help us get up the pitch.

“Totally different game, so pleased with the way we played from the back. They make it difficult to build and our two centre backs I don’t think people appreciate how good they are. They dictated play tonight.”

England now sit one point clear of Iran at the top of Group B and will confirm a first-placed finish should they take all three points against Wales next Tuesday.

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