Gareth Southgate had warned that England would face a “highly-motivated” United States side with “quality” and “athleticism” – and that’s exactly what happened as the Three Lions missed out on the chance to secure qualification to the round of 16.
Even though Southgate’s side have “edged closer” to the World Cup knockout stages, they gave a “lacklustre display” as they drew 0-0 with the USA, said Peter Smith on Sky Sports. After beating Iran 6-2 in their first game, the performance against the USA was “a reality check on their ambitions” at the tournament.
Speaking after the match, England boss Southgate said his team “didn’t have the same zip” like they did against Iran, but that “will happen”, as “this is tournament football.” He added: “We are not going to sweep through everybody without having nights like that where you have to show different qualities to get a result.”
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While it “wasn’t the best performance”, captain Harry Kane believed the draw and clean sheet puts England “in a great position” in the group. “We know we can play better than that, a draw in a World Cup isn’t bad, no game is easy,” he said. “After our first performance [against Iran] people think we’ll landslide everything, but it’s not the case.”
‘Get out the Men in Black zapper thing’
England’s display at the Al Bayt Stadium was as “tame and lame” as Monday’s win over Iran was “boldly impressive”, said Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail. Gregg Berhalter’s US side put the Three Lions under “constant pressure” and had the best chances in the game. Christian Pulisic “rattled the crossbar” in the first half and Weston McKennie also went close.
Kane had a “huge chance” late on, a free header from Luke Shaw’s curling free-kick that he “thudded wide”, said David Hytner in The Guardian. That was the “sum total of England’s threat” on a night when the US impressed with their “shape and discipline”, and having the opportunities “to have nicked it”.
At the end of the match, “boos greeted the full-time whistle”, said Phil Dawkes on the BBC. Get out the “Men in Black zapper thing” and “erase this from your memory”.
What next in group B?
All four teams can still qualify from the group, but with four points England remain in control and are top of the table after two matches. Iran are second on three points, while the US and Wales have two points and one point respectively. The final group games on Tuesday night – England vs. Wales and Iran vs. USA – will both kick-off at 7pm (GMT).
England face Wales knowing that they only need to avoid a four-goal defeat, while Wales need to win to stand a chance of qualifying – and hope there is a draw between the USA and Iran. “Essentially”, Wales must win and Iran vs. USA “must end as a draw... unless they beat England 4-0”, said Matt Davies in the Daily Mail.
After their 2-0 win over Wales on Friday, Carlos Quieroz’s Iran side will qualify with victory over the USA. If Iran get a draw they will progress if Wales fail to beat England. However, if Iran and the USA draw, and Wales beat England, Iran will be knocked out. The USA, who are currently third in the table, “simply have to beat Iran”, Davies added. “There is no other option.”
Group B table, results and fixtures
Monday 21 November
Friday 25 November
- Wales 0 Iran 2
- England 0 USA 0
Tuesday 29 November
- Wales vs. England (Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium; 7pm; BBC/S4C)
- Iran vs. USA (Al Thumama Stadium; 7pm; BBC)
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