Soccer

Gareth Southgate confident goals will come for England

Jude Bellingham gave England an opening-day victory.

England boss Gareth Southgate was satisfied his side got the job done against Serbia
England boss Gareth Southgate was satisfied his side got the job done against Serbia (Adam Davy/PA)

England head coach Gareth Southgate said he was confident there were goals in his side after an unconvincing 1-0 win against Serbia in their Euro 2024 opener.

The Three Lions made an encouraging start as Jude Bellingham headed them into a 13th-minute lead at Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen before fading in the second half and defending deep.

Skipper Harry Kane went closest to adding to England’s slender lead when his second-half header was pushed on to the crossbar and Southgate was unfazed by his side’s under-whelming performance.

Southgate told the BBC: “Today was just the finishing and a good save from the goalkeeper from the (Kane) header at the end.

“But that will come. I’m confident we will score goals. You’re playing against a back five. It’s not easy to create chances, but we did and in the end one was enough.”

England were forced deeper in the second period as Serbia adopted a more offensive approach and Southgate said it was good to see his side come through after they “had to suffer a bit”.

“That’s the reality of tournaments,” he said. “They’re a strong team. We had to suffer a bit, which I think is really good for us, to come through and defend our box the way we did. The pressure was important for the group.

Jude Bellingham, second right, scores his side’s winner against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen
Jude Bellingham, second right, scores his side’s winner against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen (Martin Rickett/PA)

“We had good chances to extend the lead and kill the game, which we didn’t manage to take. So I was really pleased with a lot of the play, especially the first half, I thought we used the ball really well.

“Second half, we didn’t keep it quite as well as we need to, but to get the win and the start we have is really important.”

Southgate praised match-winner Bellingham, adding: “He writes his own scripts, doesn’t he?

“The timing of his runs, it was a super bit of play in the build-up to the goal as well and I thought at different moments all of our forward players looked dangerous and did a good job for the team.”

Bellingham typically burst into the box and leapt on to Bukayo Saka’s deflected to cross to head home England’s winner.

He also felt Serbia had proved a tough, physical side and was pleased with the winning start..

He told the BBC: “Good game. They’re a very tough side, very robust, strong. They’re a big group of lads and it was important we prepared well for this game and we did, the staff got it right.

“We prepared all week very well and when it came to our roles, we knew what we had to do. We knew it was going to be a tight game.

“There’s been a lot of goals in the other games, but I think we try to keep to our standards and play the opposition that’s in front of us and not the theme of the tournament, if you like.

“Important that we got off to a good start. Positive inside the camp, but on to the next one.”