After succumbing to a late Lorenzo Insigne penalty which earned Italy a 1-1 draw against England, Three Lions coach Gareth Southgate was happy with what he saw on the pitch, and wasn’t too displeased with the result.
Jamie Vardy put England ahead midway through the first half, but in the 87th minute Insigne fired home from 12 yards after Federico Chiesa was bundled over in the box.
“Im pleased with the performance as it was the perfect test,” Southgate told the press. “We had to work out their pressing and you could see the players gaining confidence throughout.
“We were a massive threat, and were able to play through the middle, Alex [Oxlade-Chamberlain] made really good runs and Jesse [Lingard] took up great positions, the interplay between them all was a real threat. Raheem [Sterling] off of [Jamie] Vardy gave Italy a lot of different problems.
“We generally defending well apart from a few crosses and Italy got into some good areas, but we dealt with it well. After the changes we lost a bit of rhythm.”
Italy got their equaliser with a controversial decision from the VAR three minutes from time, as James Tarkowski trod on the foot of Federico Chiesa in the penalty area, sending the Fiorentina man to the ground.
“VAR is what it is,” Southgate stated, “but in this instance I don’t think it was a clear and obvious foul. You benefit from some decisions and not others.
“I prefer the referee’s decision being final. We shouldn’t be talking about money, but about the sport.
“VAR is the right thing to do for the sport, though we need a better way of communicating with fans.
“We know against the top teams, we need to avoid conceding freekicks in our third of the pitch, as there are some masters of the game in these situations. We need to defend with patience sometimes.”
With preparations coming together for the World Cup in Russia, Southgate feels his team are in a good place, but can still improve further.
“We’d love to be ranked third in the World, and have every player with 50 caps,” he went on. “We have played four of the biggest football countries int he world, and have done well. We will improve the more we work together.
“The players are solving problems themselves on the pitch, so that is a real plus.”