England: Gareth Southgate defends Harry Kane and Phil Foden after Serbia struggles at Euro 2024 | OneFootball

England: Gareth Southgate defends Harry Kane and Phil Foden after Serbia struggles at Euro 2024 | OneFootball

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·17 June 2024

England: Gareth Southgate defends Harry Kane and Phil Foden after Serbia struggles at Euro 2024

Article image:England: Gareth Southgate defends Harry Kane and Phil Foden after Serbia struggles at Euro 2024

Three Lions boss insists he was impressed by the resilience shown by his side in tense Group C opener

Gareth Southgate has played down concerns over the performances of Harry Kane and Phil Foden in England's win over Serbia on Sunday, saying not all his players can "star in every game".


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Jude Bellingham was England's match-winner in their Euro 2024 curtain-raiser here in Gelsenkirchen, scoring the game's only goal in a virtuoso first-half performance.

Kane, by contrast, remarkably had just two touches in the opening 45 minutes but held up the ball well after the break, while Foden was subdued on the left flank.

Their performances have led to suggestions that Southgate is struggling to get the best from all three of Bellingham, Foden and Kane, who each like to occupy similar areas, but the manager says different players will need to be decisive for England to be European champions.

"Not every player is going to star in every game," said Southgate, when asked if it was a challenge to get the trio performing in tandem.

"What's important is different people pop up with the moments like Jude did. When I go through the history of our big games, there's always been a different match-winner, a different guy to take the headlines. That's the way it's got to be if we're going to win a tournament."

Kane was more involved in the second half, despite England ceding control to Serbia, and he was denied a certain goal by a spectacular save from Serbian goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic, while also winning a match-high six fouls.

Article image:England: Gareth Southgate defends Harry Kane and Phil Foden after Serbia struggles at Euro 2024

Quiet: England duo Harry Kane and Phil Foden both received criticism after the 1-0 win over Serbia

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"Second half I think he did an incredible job holding the ball up," Southgate said of Kane. "The number of fouls that he won, he got his body across well. There's not space in that front line for everybody to be on the ball at every moment.

"First half, Bukayo [Saka] was prominent, Jude was prominent, Trent [Alexander-Arnold] and Phil had moments so Harry didn't get as much of the ball. But in the second half I thought his performance was absolutely crucial to the win."

Southgate admitted his side lost impetus after the interval and put their lax second half down to a lack of energy, while heralding his players' resilience.

"The team in the second half didn't have that same control," he said.

"Physically we had players that needed the game. We've had a lot of players that haven't played 90 minutes for a long time and we expended a lot of energy in that first half.

"So I knew that we would dip. And it was a good moment to bring Conor [Gallagher] into the game, who can get up to the ball and provide that bit more defensive solidity at that time.

"It was Tripps' [Kieran Trippier] first 90 minutes for about three months. We're dealing the cards we've been handed in trying to find the best way with that. So really pleased that, given the circumstances, we managed to show the resilience we did in the second half."

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