Lingard’s late winner is relief for England

England's Jesse Lingard, left celebrates with teammates.
England's Jesse Lingard, left celebrates with teammates.
0
Have your say

Gareth Southgate believes England Under-21s have stemmed the bleeding and can kick on from their late European Championship win against Sweden.

For a long time it looked like the Young Lions would fall short in Olomouc, having struggled to respond to defeat in their Group B opener against Portugal.

However, just as Southgate’s men seemed to be running out ideas, their hopes of progression got a timely shot in the arm as Jesse Lingard fired home an 85th-minute volley to secure a somewhat fortuitous 1-0 win.

It was the Under-21s’ first finals victory in six years and boosted their chances of securing a top-two finish ahead of Wednesday’s group finale against Italy.

“After the game the other night, we had to stop the bleeding a little bit,” head coach Southgate said.

“We’d had hammer blows with the two injuries to outstanding players then the manner of the goal we conceded and the defeat, so we had to do a lot of work making sure all of the noise around us didn’t affect us.

“We’ve made a step in the right direction, it’s in our hands now. We can watch the game tonight (Italy v Portugal) and see what emerges from that but in the end in all likeliness we’ll need to beat Italy.

“But now I think the momentum starts to swing with us a little bit now and that’s very important in football.”

Southgate was impressed by his players’ character and resilience against a tough, organised Swedish side, buoyed by their surprise victory against the Italians.

The head coach was quick to praise Ruben Loftus-Cheek for his performance after coming off the bench, so too fellow substitute Lingard.

This has been a difficult season for the 22-year-old, having sustained a serious knee injury in Manchester United’s season opener against Swansea.

It took Lingard six months to return to the field and had to do so in the Championship, ending the season on loan with Derby

“He’s an intelligent footballer,” said Southgate, who was joined in the dressing room after the match by senior team manager Roy Hodgson.