Three Lions Manager Gareth Southgate has vowed to support Man City’s John Stones after his calamitous defensive error sparked England‘s collapse in the Nations League semi-final defeat to Holland.
Fan disorder made way for a gripping clash at the sold-out Estadio D. Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes, where far fewer supporters are likely to be in attendance for Sunday’s third-place play-off against Switzerland.
England had been hoping to face Portugal in the finale and looked on course for a shot at their first trophy in 53 years as Southgate’s side reacted well to Matthijs De Ligt canceling out Marcus Rashford’s first-half penalty.
“I think fatigue has played a part tonight, a lack of match sharpness. I’m asking them to play in a way that puts them under huge pressure at the back.
“If we didn’t play that way, we wouldn’t have got to the semi-finals we’ve got to, and we would never progress to being a top team because you saw the way Holland played that way as well.
“They also made a really poor error at the back. But I have got to be there to support John because he’s going to get criticism after tonight.
“But himself and Harry (Maguire), the way we ask them to play, they take huge strain of the game on their shoulders and they’re incredibly courageous to do that.
While defeat means Southgate will again line up in Guimaraes, counterpart Ronald Koeman can look forward to what he believes is Holland’s deserved place in the inaugural Nations League final.