Southgate hails English spirit

An airborne Harry Kane volleying home the dramatic injury-time equaliser for a 2-2 draw in England's World Cup qualifier against Scotland. His team are on top of Group F with 14 points from six matches, two clear of Slovakia who are second in the gro
An airborne Harry Kane volleying home the dramatic injury-time equaliser for a 2-2 draw in England's World Cup qualifier against Scotland. His team are on top of Group F with 14 points from six matches, two clear of Slovakia who are second in the group.PHOTO: REUTERS

Kane's late equaliser against Scotland was a pivotal moment for team, says manager

GLASGOW • England manager Gareth Southgate said his side's last-gasp 2-2 draw against Scotland demonstrated the kind of mental fortitude he is trying to instil in his players and he has challenged them to continue delivering in the big tournaments.

England were seconds away from seeing their 34-game unbeaten run in international qualifiers come to an end and a first defeat at Hampden Park since 1985 after Leigh Griffiths scored two late free-kick goals. But new captain Harry Kane rescued a point by volleying in a 93rd-minute equaliser in Saturday's 2018 World Cup qualifier.

Southgate, trying to rebuild England's confidence after last year's Euro 2016 humiliation by Iceland, said his players' perseverance in the face of improbable odds was a sign that they are on the right path.

"I think it's a huge moment for the team," said the former defender, whose side remain on top of Uefa qualifying Group F with 14 points from six games.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

"The questions around us centre on character and the ability to withstand events that go against you. That's what we've got to show.

"We have to be a team that are never beaten. We have to be a team that, maybe the clock runs out, but you never, ever stop.

  • 8

  • England's eight-year unbeaten run in qualifying was kept intact by captain-for the-day Harry Kane's stoppage-time equaliser.

"Today we've done that. Is it what we wanted when we turned up here? No, it isn't. But the chain of events is remarkable really."

England took the lead in the 70th minute when substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's left-foot strike beat goalkeeper Craig Gordon's flimsy attempt at a save.

Griffiths then took centre stage, the Celtic striker arcing a 25-yard free kick inside the right-hand post in the 87th minute and then curling a shot into the other side of the goal three minutes later.

  • OTHER RESULTS

  • GROUP C

    Azerbaijan 0 Northern

    Ireland 1 Norway 1

    Czech Republic 1

    Germany 7 San Marino 0

    GROUP F

    Slovenia 2 Malta 0

    Lithuania 1 Slovakia 2

"That was probably the most emotional game of my managerial career," said Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, after a result that kept Scotland in fourth place in the pool on eight points. "People pushed themselves to another level to get a result for this country. It was like watching a heavyweight boxer against a middleweight...

"It is annoying for them to do so much and have a result that could have been one of the best results ever."

Kane's goal was his sixth in 18 international appearances and came at the end of his first game under Southgate, after injuries had kept him out of England's six previous matches.

"It was great for me personally to lead the team out, a very, very proud moment and to get that goal at the end made it even more special," said the striker. "I think being part of a leader is standing up when it matters and to get that goal at the end was important."

Southgate said: "This team is just starting out. How far they can go? I think there is great potential... but of course we have an enormous journey to go on to match teams who have already won World Cups and European Championships with players who are Champions League winners regularly."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2017, with the headline 'Southgate hails English spirit'. Print Edition | Subscribe