LONDON — Harry Kane was subbed off in the second half as the captain of England, and his team, struggled throughout in their shock 0-0 draw with Scotland.
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The Wembley crowd booed the Three Lions off the pitch at the final whistle, as Scotland’s fans celebrated a vital point in Group D which still gives them a chance to advance to the last 16.
The main talking point after the game, aside from Scotland’s heroics in front of their boisterous Tartan Army at Wembley, was Kane’s subdued display.
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Speaking to ITV in the UK after the game, Kane was asked about being substituted in the second half.
Lackluster Kane on being subbed off
“It’s part of the game, the manager felt that was the right decision so you just have to take it. It is what it is,” Kane said. “It was a tough game – Scotland defended really well, made good blocks at the right times when we know no game is going to be easy it’s a European Championship and Scotland are playing for their lives.”
Southgate explained his decision to substitute Kane for the second game in a row to kick off the European Championships.
“The whole team, we’ve got to look at the whole performance and our use of the ball and review where we can be better. That is right across the board. It is not just about one person. Scotland marked him extremely well. With the back five there isn’t a lot of space. Of course, anything that was played up there they were aggressive and they defended well. Tonight we couldn’t find the answers and we have to go away, review the game and find those answers for the Czech Republic.”
“We needed more runs in behind, I felt Marcus Rashford would give us that energy, at that point we had got to try and get the. We have to make these decisions based on what we see,” Southgate explained to ITV. “The whole team can look at ourselves, that starts with me, we’ve got to be better. We didn’t do enough to win the game tonight, not enough attempts on goal, we have to go away and look at that.”
Kane added that England must stay focused, as they now host the Czech Republic at home on Tuesday and they know a win will see them finish top of Group D.
“We’ve got another big game in a few days against the Czechs, we want to finish sharp – it’s a point, not what we wanted but it’s one step closer to qualifying. One step at a time and we go again,” Kane said.
What went wrong for Kane, England?
There was a lack of energy from the off for England and Kane’s display epitomized their struggles.
Southgate admitted they didn’t do enough.
“We’re still working those patterns, we’re playing a high level of games under the intensity and to find space tonight was difficult. Scotland played well and we weren’t able to open them up,” Southgate said.
“I know exactly where this team is – it’s a young team and some of them won’t have experienced a night under this intensity and pressure, that’s a huge learning for them. That’s what we have to look at moving forward.”
England couldn’t get the ball into their main forward and the likes of Phil Foden and Mason Mount were busy in support of him, but were often clogging up the central areas Kane loves to operate in and drop deeper in to.
That happened against Croatia too, as the England talisman has yet to score in the tournament and has looked sluggish throughout.
England will start him against the Czech Republic, of course, but Kane has to stand tall, as his club situation at Tottenham looks to be having an impact on his performances and he doesn’t look sharp.
After battling back from an injury, yet again, late in the season, England need the real Harry Kane to stand tall. But they also need to play to his strengths.
Perhaps Southgate will play direct wide players in Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho against the Czech Republic to help create space for Kane? That is how he can flourish.
England know a point will likely do to seal qualification to the last 16, but Kane and Co. have to put on a show at Wembley and show that the Three Lions can roar in the knockout rounds. Against Scotland it was more of a whimper.