Gary Southgate Full Of Praise For Kobbie Mainoo And Bellingham

Kobbie Mainoo and Jude Bellingham

Jude Bellingham rescued a draw for England against Belgium. England were just on the verge of losing at Wembley again but Bellingham’s strike saved them.

Jude Bellingham’s last-wheeze equaliser salvaged a 2-2 draw for England against Belgium and avoided a second consecutive defeat at Wembley in a matter of days.

Defensive errors came to the fore again for England, who looked to be heading for yet another defeat to a FIFA top 10-ranked opponent, but Bellingham, who had missed two golden opportunities earlier in the match, spared the hosts’ blushes.

Gareth Southgate’s side’s problems started early on with Man City defender John Stones limping off, before Youri Tielemans capitalised on a Jordan Pickford error to give Belgium the lead.

The hosts, missing the likes of Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka and Kyle Walker through injury, responded well to those early setbacks as Ivan Toney won and scored a penalty to bring England level.

Jarrod Bowen had a goal disallowed by VAR for offside and Bellingham missed a sitter before Wembley was left stunned again as Tielemans headed home Romelu Lukaku’s cross to restore Belgium’s lead going into the interval.

England pushed for an equaliser after the break but Bellingham headed another glorious opportunity wide before the impressive Kobbie Mainoo was denied by a smart save from Matz Sels.

Phil Foden then sent a strike wide of the far post as the Three Lions looked to be stuttering towards another defeat, but Bellingham popped up to have the final say on what was a difficult night for England.

Southgate’s record against top 10 nations now reads seven wins, seven draws, and 11 defeats and with time starting to run out, there is still plenty to be resolved ahead of the tournament in Germany this summer.

Meanwhile Jude Bellingham was voted as the Best Player of the game by several football experts.

England manager Gareth Southgate spoke after the game:

“The first game wasn’t a game which was a high level in terms of intensity. We’ve done exactly what Holland did with Van Dijk, what Norway did with Odegaard, Ake and Haaland. It only seems to fall on us when there’s a question on that.

“Of course, we’re disappointed if he’s got a problem. It looks like it’s in the adductor area. He came in on the back of not playing for two weeks, so it’s not about overload. But I hate sending players back to their clubs injured.”

England’s problems deepened moments later when the normally reliable Pickford gifted the visitors a goal. The Everton goalkeeper’s clearance was easily intercepted before Tielemans placed his long-range strike into the bottom corner with Pickford scrambling back into position.

The hosts weren’t behind for long, however, with Toney doing his hopes of securing a place in Southgate’s Euro 2024 squad no harm. The Brentford striker latched onto Bellingham’s pass inside the penalty area before being brought down by Jan Vertonghen, and he made no mistake from the spot to bring England level.

Pickford then had to be alert to deny Jeremy Doku with a smart save before England got a grip of the game. Bowen saw his first England goal chalked off by VAR for offside before the West Ham forward curled an effort over from the corner of the penalty area.

Then came a moment that stunned Wembley. Bellingham proved he is human after all as England won the ball back high up the pitch before the Real Madrid star, who had a clear sight on goal, blazed high over the bar from eight yards.

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All England’s good work going forward was undone in the 36th minute as Romelu Lukaku’s cross teed up an unmarked Tielemans for his second of the night to send Belgium in at the break in front after a manic 45 minutes.

England, who came out for the second half without names on their shirts to highlight memory loss as one of the symptoms of dementia, pushed for an equaliser as Foden teed up Toney, but the striker’s effort was turned behind by Matz Sels at his near post.

Bellingham was again guilty of wastefulness in front of goal as he headed Gomez’s cross wide from a glorious position before the impressive Mainoo was denied by a smart save by Sels at his near post.

Foden then fired wide as England looked set to fall short until Bellingham’s stoppage-time strike brought some smiles back to England faces.

Meanwhile, Gareth Southgate is set to name a preliminary England squad for Euro 2024 on Tuesday May 21 – two days after the Premier League season ends.

Bellingham pleased to spare England from criticisms after snatching the 2-2 draw.

He said: “Yeah I liked it because I know the rubbish we would have got if we lost two games on the bounce.

“These are two games that are going to stand us in good stead going into the Euros. I know people will be negative but you have to take these games for what they are.

“You’ve got to keep perspective. We had a lot of lads making debuts (this week) and a lot of lads I’ve never played with. We created a lot of chances. I should have scored (previously). I was happy I could make it up to the team.”

Bellingham also spoke up for Southgate, who has been working with a severely-depleted squad and saw Stones join a lengthy injury list early in the match.

“Of course it’s hard for the gaffer, people need to realise how hard it is. You come into these games expecting a fully-fit team and expect to give it a really good crack,” added the midfielder.

“It’s a really difficult one for us, but I’m sure he’s glad with the players he got to see over the two games.

“I’m never happy to lose or draw but we’ve got to be happy with how they’ve played.”

“We did leave it late and kept everyone on their toes. It shows the resilience in the squad. We would’ve been disappointed with two defeats from two games and that’s not the standard we have set.

“Today we deserved more than a draw, but we kept fighting and got there in the end.

“Everyone played their part. Madders [substitute James Maddison] played the ball to Jude [for the equaliser] so it’s not just about the starting 11. A lot of players have played [in the past two games] and everyone has looked at ease.”

Before the game against Belgium, England boss Southgate said he has never experienced anything like the injury crisis England are in right now.

Stones is now added to that list and despite admitting the injuries are a concern, he said the positive is improved squad depth.

He said:

“I’m a little bit lost as to who we’ve got and who we haven’t! The great thing is, there’s definitely some players who have emerged positively from the opportunities they’ve had. We’ve perhaps got more depth in one respect, but the injuries are a concern.

“We got so many players missing at the moment with the real heat of the season to come, with the intensity of the games and what’s resting on them, we won’t know what we’re left with until right at the end.”

On the other hand, England Manager Gareth Southgate was highly impressed with Kobbie Mainoo performance. He said:

“Kobbie’s attributes are there for everyone to see. The ability to receive under pressure and ride challenges, to manipulate the ball in tight areas.

“We were a little bit more open, there’s no doubt about that. We wanted to press aggressively, and there’s times we turned the ball over on the edge of their box when we had chances we should have taken.

“We had problems in other ways with their players pulling wide and leaving Lukaku one-on-one. He gives us a different profile in midfield to anything we’ve got, he’s adapted and adjusted brilliantly.

“You can’t believe his age really, that he’s taken everything in his stride in as he has.”

Apart from Southgate, Ivan Toney was also full of praise for Kobbie Mainoo after the Manchester United midfielder made his England debut against Belgium.
Tedesco: England were really strong
Belgium manager Domenico Tedesco:

“I’m disappointed, with five seconds to go you can win at Wembley and it would be of course something very special.

“If we have a look at the game, I think England were really strong, created many chances and you had a feeling from the beginning they wanted to win the second game here.

“The result is okay in the end.”

Belgium manager Domenico Tedesco added:

“It’s difficult to analyse because the speed they put inside is unbelievable, they play one touch which isn’t that easy.

“We conceded a penalty when we could drop earlier but it’s not easy, they have quality in all positions and this is without Harry Kane.

“You saw we wanted not to give too much space in between the lines because they look for the overlaps in the middle.

“They were a little bit surprised in the first 15 minutes, we scored but could have made more chances. In the second half we controlled things more, we changed the shape and pressed them higher.

“But overall it’s not easy to control teams for 90 minutes. Not here.”

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