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Gareth Southgate warns England defence must improve after 'poor' errors vs Kosovo

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 10/09/2019 Tom Doyle
a group of football players on a field © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Gareth Southgate has called on England to improve at the back after a Jekyll & Hyde performance against Kosovo on Tuesday night. As good as Southgate's scintillating attack of Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Harry Kane were, the Three Lions' defending left a lot to desire at St Mary's. Despite sitting 120th in the world rankings, Kosovo sat second in Group A heading into this match - and the visitors were ahead in under 40 seconds.

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group A - England v Kosovo - St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Britain - September 10, 2019  England's Jadon Sancho celebrates scoring their fifth goal with Raheem Sterling   Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers © Reuters Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group A - England v Kosovo - St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Britain - September 10, 2019 England's Jadon Sancho celebrates scoring their fifth goal with Raheem Sterling Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers Michael Keane inexplicably gifted possession to Vedat Muriqi, who teed up Valon Berisha for a cool finish to send the Kosovo players, staff and fans into ecstasy.

England replied almost immediately as Keane made amends by setting up Raheem Sterling for an eighth-minute equaliser, and the Three Lions turned on the style going forward. Sterling set up Kane to put England ahead before Jadon Sancho's cross forced a comic own goal from Mergim Vojvoda, while Stering teed up another two goals for Sancho to leave England 5-1 up at half-time.

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That scoreline was harsh on Kosovo, whose attacking instincts caused some nervy moments for Southgate's side. While that 5-1 lead eventually proved insurmountable for the Kosovans, the visitors still won the second half 2-0 as they punished more poor defending from the hosts. Declan Rice gave possession away cheaply after the restart, with Berisha adding his second of the night off the resulting counter-attack.

Harry Maguire then conceded a penalty for a clumsy foul on Muriqi, who dusted himself off to net from the spot.

Kosovo went close to a fourth late on, but England saw out the game - though Southgate revealed his disappointment at the sloppiness of his team's defensive display after the game. "[t was] a bizarre game really," Southgate told ITV. "There were obvious poor errors for goals but I'm really pleased with the composure we showed. We used the ball well.

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group A - England v Kosovo - St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Britain - September 10, 2019  Kosovo's Aro Muric shakes hands with England's Raheem Sterling after the match   Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers © Reuters Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group A - England v Kosovo - St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Britain - September 10, 2019 Kosovo's Aro Muric shakes hands with England's Raheem Sterling after the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers "The errors, we have to be better - the players don't need me to tell them that. The outstanding parts of our play were obvious, the errors were obvious."

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