Gareth Southgate called Poland’s late equaliser “a punch on the nose” – but claimed it might be a good thing for his England charges after they were denied victory at the death in Warsaw on Wednesday night.
After losing the lead in both the World Cup semi-final and the Euro 2020 final, Damian Szymanski’s last-minute header left the Three Lions with that sinking feeling yet again.
Qualification for next year’s World Cup is still all but in the bag after the 1-1 draw, with England enjoying a four-point lead over Albania in Group I.
But Southgate was still left to curse what might have been.
“Really, the qualification’s done if we take three points tonight,” he said. “We were pretty much in Qatar.
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“We had a warning with the goal kick that was charged down. There were a couple of sloppy moments at the end. We’re right to be disappointed. We shouldn’t concede.
“A lapse of concentration and poor defending and good teams will punish you.
“Maybe it’s not a bad thing we’ve had a punch on the nose at the end.
Harry Kane went for “a kick in the teeth” as his own description of the late goal after his 30-yard wonder goal appeared to have set up England for a memorable victory.
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“That’s probably one of the best goals, probably the furthest out I’ve scored for England,” he said.
“I was not tempted because we were in total control of the game,” Southgate explained.
“To bring players into that moment when everybody was performing would mean bringing in players who had been sitting in the stands.
“A couple of times we looked at it but we said, ‘No problem.’
“We were going to refresh the wide players as much as anything to run the clock down but when the goal went in we did not think it was a good time to make the change.”