Southgate insists England ‘have come along way’ despite Spain defeat

England manager Gareth Southgate admitted after his sides 2-1 UEFA Nations League defeat to Spain at Wembley that his side are still a work in progress, although he feels his squad have come along way since his appointment in September 2016.

The night had started in excellent fashion for the Three Lions when left-back Luke Shaw laid on a beautifully weighted assist for his Manchester United teammate Marcus Rashford to slot home and put England into an early lead.

However, Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul struck back almost immediately, before Valencia attacker Rodrigo tapped home from a free kick to send La Roja in at half-time in the ascendancy.

Despite England pushing hard for an equaliser late on, Luis Enrique’s side held on to seal the first win of the former Barcelona coaches reign as Spain manager.

Although Spain dominated the game for large periods, England boss Southgate was pleased by elements of his sides performance and he insisted that while he is in charge, the Three Lions will remain committed to introducing a more European style that encourages players to play out from the back.

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“They pressed us and we didn’t keep the ball well enough. I have to give the players credit. We could have folded and disappeared. In the last 25 minutes we came into the game and could have got a draw.

“We are under no illusion that Spain were the better team for long periods. We are still at the early stages of what we want to do.

“They pressed well. It took us a while to work out where that was coming form and solutions to it. We are still finding out feet in playing out. We can go back to an old style but we will never be a top team. Or we stick with it and accept it won’t always work.

“The system in Spain has produced some of the best midfielders in the world. We are a different profile of players who can’t play like they do. But we can move the ball. When we are match fitter we will function better up the pitch. It takes time. We have come a long way.

“Today was a tough test in terms of pressing and a team who are so good in possession. We have to keep reviewing and looking at what we do. But we want to stick to the plan and get better at it.”

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