Most Read Football

France grab late winner against England1

French late show sinks England

Aaron Wan-Bissaka's injury-time own goal sunk the 10-man England Under-21s as France - who missed two penalties - scored twice at the death to snatch victory at Euro 2019.

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Gareth Southgate proud of England after a second semi-final defeat in 12 months

Gareth Southgate with John Stones
Gareth Southgate with John Stones

Gareth Southgate is focusing on progress rather than the pain of another semi-final loss as the England manager looks to build towards Euro 2020 glory.

A year after Croatia's extra-time comeback win at the World Cup, the Three Lions fell just short once more in the final four.

Holland responded well to Marcus Rashford's first-half penalty and ran out 3-1 victors in extra-time as calamitous mistakes from John Stones and Ross Barkley allowed the Dutch to reach the inaugural Nations League final.

It was another case of so close yet so far for England, but Southgate refused to let this latest semi-final disappointment cloud their fine work.

Put to the England manager that the key thing was to use the experience of Moscow and Guimaraes when looking ahead to Euro 2020, he told BBC Radio 5 live: "Yeah, the players are hugely motivated.

"They're incredibly disappointed as I know the fans will be, but the levels of performance getting to two semi-finals is beyond where they've been before.

"And I know everybody will speak about our history, but for these players they've had an 18 months that is beyond so many teams over the last couple of decades.

"I am proud to be their manager. I am proud to support them and I've got to stand by them in this month."

Southgate vowed to support Stones after his error, but it would not be a surprise to the see the defender on the bench on Sunday for the third-place play-off against Switzerland.

The England manager is surely going to make sweeping changes when they return to action in Guimaraes, where the squad was training or doing recovery work on Friday morning.

"I think we were talking before the match as a group of staff about the incredible games England have been involved in, in tournaments, and the twists and turns, so much happens in those big games that it's hard to take it all in," Southgate told the post-match press conference.

"I thought it was a really high level of opponent, who posed us problems in possession without creating too many clear-cut chances early in the game.

"We managed to solve a lot of the problems they posed. They pressed us well.

"Throughout the game, we made too many mistakes in our third of the pitch and partly that was a consequence of their good pressure but partly that was just errors by us.

"So, incredibly proud that the players have given absolutely everything. It's very painful for them, it's very painful for everybody, but it's a night where we would have learned so much, some individuals really stood out.

"People like Declan Rice haven't been in that sort of environment before, Ross Barkley I thought was really outstanding, Raheem (Sterling too)."

Southgate faces the unenviable challenge of rousing the troops for Sunday's match before the squad jet back home and away on their summer breaks.

But this missed opportunity to win a first senior trophy in 53 years is likely to play on their minds, so too perhaps the fact a midfield dynamo again played a key role in their downfall.

Last year Luka Modric ran the show as Croatia won their World Cup semi-final and on Thursday the man-of-the match was Frenkie De Jong as he pulled the strings for the Dutch.

"I think the key is that we have over the last two years tried to get the very best performances from the players we have," Southgate said when that correlation was put to him.

"We've improved enormously as a team. We've progressed as a team.

"We could (have been) playing qualifying matches somewhere else, but we weren't, we were playing in another semi-final.

"It makes it more painful, but it was more important to be in a game like (this) ahead of next summer as well, because that's the level of the teams.

"At the moment, against some of the best teams we've not been able to get over the line in those two semi-finals, but we just have to keep working and adapting and we've done that over the course of this competition.

"Some young players have had tremendous experiences.

"So, it's been hugely worthwhile for us. But, of course, we wanted to come here and win the trophy and we haven't been able to do that."

England's semi-final misery since 1966

World Cup 1990

England were involved in a penalty shoot out for the first time and it came in their biggest game since 1966. Gary Lineker, Peter Beardsley and David Platt scored the first three spot-kicks, but Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle missed as West Germany won 4-3 in the shoot out to reach a third successive final.

The game had finished 1-1, with Germany taking the lead through a deflected Andreas Brehme free-kick and Lineker equalising for England with 10 minutes remaining.

European Championships 1996

Six years on and it was penalties again - and the Germans again. It was the summer that football nearly came home and hosts England were in front after only two minutes against their old rivals thanks to Alan Shearer's header. However, the lead was short lived as Stefan Kuntz quickly equalised and it ended 1-1.

England held their nerve and scored their first five penalties, but so did Germany. Gareth Southgate was first up in sudden death and his desperately tame effort was easily saved, before Andreas Moller's emphatic finish ended England's dreams.

World Cup 2018

England's hopes of a first World Cup final since 1966 came to an agonising end as they lost 2-1 after extra time to Croatia in Moscow. Southgate's side led through Kieran Trippier's fifth-minute free-kick before Ivan Perisic equalised in the second half.

England had lost momentum after half-time and it continued into extra time, where Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the 109th minute.

Nations League 2019

England's hopes of winning the inaugural Nations League went up in smoke in calamitous fashion on Thursday night as dreadful defending allowed Holland to seal a 3-1 extra-time victory and progress to the final. Again, England led as Marcus Rashford scored from the penalty spot in the first half but Matthijs De Ligt headed the equaliser after 73 minutes.

VAR denied England what might have been a late winner as Jesse Lingard's finish was ruled out for a marginal offside and it was an extra-time semi-final loss for the second successive summer for Southgate's team as the Dutch scored twice - Quincy Promes' clincher coming after a Kyle Walker own goal - following mistakes by John Stones and then Ross Barkley.

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Most Read Football

France grab late winner against England1

French late show sinks England

Aaron Wan-Bissaka's injury-time own goal sunk the 10-man England Under-21s as France - who missed two penalties - scored twice at the death to snatch victory at Euro 2019.

What do Manchester United need to do this summer? Find out below...2

Manchester United's transfer focus

There are not too many 'gots' and plenty of 'needs' for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to think about during the summer transfer window at Manchester United.

Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages3

Paper Talk: Milan bound?

Romelu Lukaku looks set for a summer switch to Inter Milan, while Spurs are finally looking to spend big in the transfer market - it's Paper Talk!

Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages4

Paper Talk: Pogba 500k a week

Tuesday's Paper Talk rounds up all of the day's football gossip, including Manchester United's huge pay offer to Paul Pogba.

Besiktas' 38,000-capacity Vodafone Park5

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