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Gareth Southgate reacts to England being booed off in Iceland loss before Euro 2024

Gareth Southgate has spoken out after England were booed off the pitch in their final match before Euro 2024 because of a humiliating defeat to Iceland – a team ranked 72nd in the world. The Three Lions lost 1-0 at Wembley on Friday night but Southgate remains confident, vowing: “We’ll be ready for Serbia.”

Iceland were also the team that ousted England from the Euros in 2016 and celebrated another historic win thanks to Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson’s first-half goal.

Despite being the bookmakers’ favourites to win the Euros in Germany, Southgate’s team fell short of expectations. Defender John Stones is anticipated to recover from an injury scare, but otherwise, it was a bleak night for England.

Yet Southgate expressed his confidence for the upcoming Euros campaign, which kicks off in Gelsenkirchen on June 16, saying: “I’m confident we will be better than we were tonight against Serbia in our opening game.

“You would like a good performance and a crowd that’s been entertained to leave them on a high before the Euros and clearly we weren’t at the level we needed to be.

Southgate admitted the night was far from ideal but insisted that the team would improve against Serbia. He added: “In a way it will focus the mind and it shows that any complacency, or thinking that talent alone is going to get us this trophy, won’t be enough.

“We have to be spot-on to win every game at this level. Iceland deserved to win, but it will focus our minds that we have to do better next weekend.

“It was a disjointed and disappointing performance and we didn’t show enough character.

“It’s not perfect but I’ve been involved in a lot of these last matches before a tournament as a player as well. No excuses for the result but there’s a lot of things we can put right quickly. There were questions asked that we weren’t able to answer.”

Regarding central defender Stones’ half-time withdrawal, Southgate commented: “We think he’s probably ok but we didn’t want to take any chances.”

He also defended Premier League Player of the Season Phil Foden, who had an off night, stating: “It wasn’t about individuals, the team wasn’t good enough. Phil looked bright at the start but the team lost confidence and composure.”

England were taken aback by Thorsteinsson’s 12th-minute goal, sneaked in at keeper Aaron Ramsdale’s near post.

Despite captain Harry Kane and Cole Palmer missing golden opportunities to equalise, England were fortunate Sverrir Ingason and Thorsteinsson didn’t add to their humiliation.

Kane posted on social media: “Not how we wanted to sign off for the Euros but loads to learn from and we’ll get stronger! Get behind the lads and we’ll see you in Germany.”

Midfielder Declan Rice also openly expressed his disappointment, saying: “When we have that much of the ball, we have a couple of clear-cut chances and get beat 1-0 at home just before a Euros it’s not ideal.

“In the end it becomes a frustration game, you’re chasing your tail a little bit and get caught on the counter-attack. It’s not ideal we lost but there’s a lot of learning curves you can build on as a team.

“Maybe against the teams that sit in it’s about being a bit mentally switched-on. I felt at times we were a little stretched, not as compact as we usually are. Inside I’m hurting and between now and the next game there’s work to be done.”


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