Gareth Southgate praises England’s display in defeat by Brazil

Gareth Southgate, Manager of England men's senior team, talks to Jude Bellingham of England during the international friendly match between England and Brazil at Wembley Stadium on March 23, 2024 in London, England. 

Gareth Southgate insisted he was pleased with England’s performance after defeat to Brazil dampened optimism about the chances of glory at Euro 2024.

Brazil left Wembley with a 1-0 victory after Endrick, their 17-year-old star, came off the bench to punish poor defending with his first goal for his country. An injury-hit England had struggled to convince and were caught out after a mistake from the substitute Lewis Dunk.

But Southgate, who confirmed that Harry Kane will be unavailable again when England host Belgium on Tuesday, refused to be downhearted. The head coach was without several key players and took positives from handing debuts to Anthony Gordon, Ezri Konsa and Kobbie Mainoo.

“I was pleased,” Southgate said. “I don’t like losing matches. I thought there were lots of very good individual performances from players who’ve hardly played for England. I thought our regular players were very good. With 15 minutes to go we’re thinking we’ve managed to see a lot of new players. We’ve had our share of the game. We’ve had as many attempts on goal as they have. The difference in the end was one moment. That is the ruthlessness at this level.

“I know when you lose there will always be a negative reaction. But, given all the changes that we’d made, I thought the crowd were with the team. They could see a lot of young players going in and doing well. I’m not down on the performance.”

England struggled to hurt Brazil without Kane, who will return to Bayern Munich for further treatment on his injured ankle. Bukayo Saka was also missed on the right flank. It was difficult for Ollie Watkins to shine as Kane’s deputy.

“We’re playing a top team so chances are going to be limited,” Southgate said. “But I was really pleased with the players who went in. We need to find out about them. We need to know where we might head if we didn’t have Harry for a big match. I thought Ollie did a good job. He didn’t get that clear chance on goal but a lot of his work was very good. It was a good experiment.”

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