England manager Gareth Southgate believes the bitter disappointment of losing a second semi-final in 12 months will be the fuel his side needs to take the next step at next year’s European Championships.
After a 3-1 defeat to The Netherlands in the Nations League last four on Thursday, Southgate’s men claimed the consolation prize of third place by beating Switzerland 6-5 on penalties after a 0-0 draw dominated by England in Guimaraes.
“I think for me the significant step is the level of disappointment that we haven’t left here going to the final and winning the trophy,” said Southgate. “There is a real determination for all of us that we recognise now you don’t get many opportunities as an international team and we’ve got to make sure we really strive to take the next step over the next couple of years.”
Jordan Pickford was England’s penalty hero once more as after years of disappointment in shootouts, Southgate’s side have now won two in the past year after also edging past Colombia in the last 16 of last year’s World Cup.
Pickford scored as England were flawless from the spot before saving from Josip Drmic to secure a 6-5 win in the shootout.
“I was a bit nervous taking my penalty but I’m not nervous saving them,” said Pickford. “We practice them consistently and I always pick my spot and always seem to score, but I had never taken one in a real game.”
After the disappointment of gifting the Dutch two goals in extra-time on Thursday, there were far more positives for Southgate despite England’s profligacy in front of goal.
England hit the woodwork four times, while Callum Wilson had a late winner in normal time ruled out by VAR.