London (AFP) – Gareth Southgate admitted England could have no complaints about the furious reaction from fans who booed them after the drab 0-0 draw against arch rivals Scotland at Euro 2020.
Southgate’s side were jeered at the final whistle at Wembley on Friday after managing just one shot on target.
Five days after starting their Group D campaign with a scrappy 1-0 win against Croatia, England once again failed to impress in attack.
England remain on course to qualify for the last 16 going into their final group match against the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
But they will have to improve significantly if they are to win the tournament and England boss Southgate said he expected a harsh reaction given the emotion of the derby clash with Scotland.
“This is a tournament and it’s critical when you can’t win not to lose,” Southgate said.
“That of course feels difficult in the last 15 minutes of a game where fans are desperate for you to go forward and abandon all shape because of course it’s Scotland, it feels like a unique occasion.
“But we have to still approach it in the context that a point is still an important step towards qualification and ultimately qualification is the first objective for us.”
Southgate insisted he was right not to tell his players to chase the game in the closing stages because they could have been caught out on the break.
“It was a night where it was a bit frantic, it wasn’t a game where there was a huge amount of control and you’ve got to make sure that, sitting on three points as we did, we manage the tournament as well as the game,” Southgate said.
“It’s easy to gamble towards the end and lose shape and then end up losing the game in the last five minutes and then you’re kicking yourself for not managing the tournament.
“I understand we’re at Wembley, it’s a game against Scotland where everybody wants us to win.
“We wanted to win but it is in the context of a tournament and qualification is the first and most important thing.”
Southgate felt the wrath of the crowd when he took off Manchester City playmaker Phil Foden in the second half, while he also replaced out-of-form captain Harry Kane.
He knows the pressure will mount on England if they don’t find their form against the Czech Republic.
“This was always something I knew we were going to have to deal with, that was going to be a challenging experience for the players,” Southgate said.
“I said before, just because you’re at home doesn’t mean that you win. You have to win.
“On Sunday we played well and we got the result we deserved. Tonight we didn’t play as well but we have to accept that. I accept that as the manager.
“We learn from the experience and we have a different sort of challenge now against the Czechs.”
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