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England got their Euro 2020 campaign off to a flying start when they beat Croatia, but the Three Lions were brought back down to earth at Wembley on Friday.
Gareth Southgate’s outfit stuttered to a goalless draw against Scotland and, with just one shot on target, former England winger Chris Waddle said they “lacked ideas in the final third”.
Captain Harry Kane rightly says it is “one step closer to qualification”, but will it feel like a step back in terms of their momentum this tournament?
‘It might be an important point’
England sit second in Group D with four points after two games and face the Czech Republic, who are top on goal difference, in the final game on Tuesday at 20:00 BST.
“We were too frantic and not patient in the right areas of the field,” Southgate told BBC Sport. “It is a performance we know that has to be better. It might be an important point.
“We wanted to go out there and win and qualify. That’s what we wanted to do and it’s a kick in the teeth because we haven’t done that yet.
“But we’re staying positive. It’s tournament football and you can’t win every one. There’s going to be a blip along the way and there are other top teams who have drawn games. We just need to stay positive and be ready for Tuesday.”
Kane said it was not the Three Lions’ best performance and they “want to finish sharp” against the Czech Republic.
“It’s another point closer to qualification and that’s our ultimate goal,” he added. “We just have to recover and look forward to the next game in a few days.
“It was a tough game. Scotland defended really well, made good blocks at the right times and we know no game is going to be easy. It’s a European Championship and Scotland are playing for their lives.”
What’s going wrong for Kane?
Kane is England’s captain and talisman, winning the World Cup Golden Boot in 2018, and headed into this tournament having finished with the most goals and assists of any player in the Premier League last season.
But his difficult start to Euro 2020 continued against Scotland as he managed just 19 touches before being substituted on 74 minutes.
“The games are intense and you have fresh legs to bring into play,” explained Southgate. “We have a squad and have to use it. We took the captain Harry Kane off, but the types of players on the bench, we have to use them.”
England midfielder Declan Rice added: “Scotland nailed their gameplan and nullified Harry Kane. He is a world-class player and we need to get the ball to him to score.
“With the press and social media there might be an overreaction now, but we have to stay positive.”
Ex-England winger Waddle says a long domestic season looks to have taken its toll on the Tottenham forward.
“He doesn’t look fresh. It’s like hard work for him,” Waddle told BBC Radio 5 Live. “He’s got no change of pace around him at the minute.
“He looks leggy, he’s coming off, he can’t get in the box. He looks as if he’s had a long hard season.”
But former England midfielder Jack Wilshere says the players must not take too much notice of what is said on social media following the performance.
“That’s the world we live in. They will read the negative comments and it’s all about how it affects the individual,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I’m pretty sure Harry Kane won’t let it affect him and he will try to improve, but I feel the team around him needs to improve as well.
“Kane is someone who feeds off other players. He’s a world-class player and at times world-class players do what the game needs. At the minute he’s dropping in to pick the ball up and I feel we need to get him higher up the pitch.”
‘Scotland just bossed England’
Scotland have one point from their opening two games and will need to beat Croatia to stand a chance of going through. But they will take heart from their defiant Wembley display.
“The bravery out there, standing up to a lot of world-class players, they did not look fazed at any point,” said Pat Nevin on BBC Radio 5 Live.
“England were warned enough it was going to be a battle, it was going to be a fight. People were saying you had better be at 100% and if you’re at 100% you’ll probably win.
“They weren’t up for it like the biggest cup final they’ve ever played. Whereas you look at the Scotland players and they were exactly like that.”
Waddle says England came off second best on the night.
“Scotland carried a massive threat,” he added. “The problem with Scotland is scoring goals. They were unlucky on a couple of occasions.
“It was a poor performance by England and Scotland just bossed them.”