England manager Gareth Southgate feels that his side’s disappointment at finishing third in the UEFA Nations League is a step in the right direction.

England manager Gareth Southgate feels that his side’s disappointment at finishing third in the UEFA Nations League is a step in the right direction.

The Three Lions were taken to extra-time against both Netherlands and Switzerland, losing 3-1 against the former before going to penalties in the third-place play-off following a goalless draw.

Jordan Pickford proved to be the hero of the shootout, scoring from the spot himself before saving from Josip Drmic to ensure England emerged 6-5 winners from penalties.

Yet despite finishing third, Southgate told the FA website that his men are determined to improve with Euro 2020 qualifying well underway.

“We’ve had some good discussions over the last few days about only getting as far as we did,” he said.

“There’s a real determination from all of us, that you don’t get many opportunities as an international team and you’ve got to strive to take the next step in the next few years.

“For me, the significant step is the level of disappointment we have leaving here having not gone to the final or got the trophy.

“That took some lifting over the last couple of days for everyone because none of us were satisfied.”

Despite their disappointment at not taking part in Sunday’s final against Portugal however, the Three Lions have enjoyed a more fruitful period in the last year after reaching the World Cup semi-final in 2018 before their trip to the inaugural Nations League finals this week.

England struck the woodwork multiple times during the draw against Switzerland, in addition to seeing Callum Wilson’s goal chalked off by VAR for a foul on Manuel Akanji, and Southgate felt the game should have been over before reaching penalties.

“It was important that we responded today with a high-level of performance,” he continued.

“The players adapted really well because we changed the shape and they carried it out really well.

“We should’ve won the game, with the opportunities we created and the number of times we hit the woodwork so it was a good response.

“We prepared well for that eventuality [penalties] and talked to the players about it three weeks ago, as we knew that in a competition like this, it could happen.

“So it’s great for all of the staff when that hard work comes to fruition.”

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