England in tournament mode as they look to add Denmark to Belgium scalp

Gareth Southgate: England manager has heralded the value of the Nations League tournament.Gareth Southgate: England manager has heralded the value of the Nations League tournament.
Gareth Southgate: England manager has heralded the value of the Nations League tournament.
England manager Gareth Southgate is in tournament mode as he aims to follow up Nations League victory against Belgium with a Wembley win over Denmark.

The Three Lions moved to the top of Nations League Group A2 with a comeback win over the top-ranked team in the world on Sunday.

Romelu Lukaku put Belgium ahead from the penalty spot before Marcus Rashford levelled with a penalty of his own and the 2-1 win was secured courtesy of a deflected strike from Mason Mount.

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Southgate said that beating a team of the calibre of Belgium showed his young players what was possible in the future. Rashford, too, said the players had proven to themselves that they could beat the best – having lost to Roberto Martinez’s side twice during the 2018 World Cup.

England reached the inaugural finals of the Nations League, finishing third after qualifying from a group which also contained Spain and Croatia.

Southgate heralded the competition for throwing up top-class fixtures on a regular basis but wants to see England take another step to next year’s finals with victory over Denmark tomorrow.

“The quality of the opponent from the back players and their use of the ball, the angles, the movement and the one-twos, we are not going to face a more complicated game defensively, I think,” he said of Belgium.

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“You will face different sorts of challenges; counter-attacks, speed, power – but they have got a bit of everything in their ranks and in Kevin De Bruyne they have such a special player. I just think for us it was a brilliant test, the sort of test we need. That is the beauty of the Nations League, you get a game against the highest-level opponent.

“Mentally and physically, that would have taken an enormous amount of out us and we are now in a situation, a bit like in a tournament, where we have to back that up on Wednesday.”

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