Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Gareth Southgate: England will play Belgium with 'huge pride'

Gareth Southgate: England will play Belgium with 'huge pride'

After Mario Mandzukic scored in extra-time to give Croatia a 2-1 win against England in the semi-final, he ran to a corner of the pitch at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium to share his joy with his teammates.

The surge of support for Southgate is a remarkable turnaround from the mid-1990s when he was ridiculed for missing a decisive penalty in England's semi-final shootout defeat to Germany at the 1996 European Championships.

England manager Gareth Southgate says the team dressing room is "a hard place at the moment", after his side went out to Croatia in extra-time in the Fifa World Cup semifinals.

"I'm sure we lacked in some areas, there are things we could've done better", Kane said.

"Of course it is going to be a really hard task over the next 24 hours to assess everybody and to get everybody mentally back to where we want them for a game like that".

"The dressing room is a very hard place at the moment".

"It's hard to put that into context now, and a bit too soon".

At England's first two group games there were only about 2,000 fans present each time, but as fears of hooliganism and violence in Russian Federation have so far proved unfounded, and Gareth Southgate's team have progressed further in the tournament than most expected, the dash to Moscow commenced.

They had only previously been in the World Cup semi-finals in 1966, when they won the title on home soil, and 1990 so Southgate said he was trying to balance his pride in his young team with remembering how rare such chances are.

"Tonight was a wonderful opportunity for us and you can't guarantee that those opportunities will come again", he added. At the England end, fans stayed singing and congratulating the team for some time after the final whistle. We can at least defend two crosses. Now we have a new benchmark, a new level of expectation. "Many of these players have come of age and I couldn't be prouder of them".

For a second there, it did honestly feel like it was coming home, but alas, it was not to be.

"When you get to this stage of the competition, the margins are fine. they've taken two of their (chances) and we weren't able to respond".

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