England refused to press the panic button after their lacklustre display in the bore World Cup draw against the USA. Captain Harry Kane acknowledged his side fell well below the standards they set in the opening game against Iran. But Kane is content with the commanding position England find themselves heading into Tuesday’s final group match against Wales. “It wasn’t our best performance for sure,” he said.
“We had some good spells with the ball, got in some good positions but didn’t quite have the final product. But a great clean sheet puts us in a great position. After our first game people thought we would landslide every team but that wasn’t the case.
“We came up against an organised team with some quality players so we have to respect that. The clean sheet is really pleasing. A point isn’t what we came here for but at least we’re in a good position.”
Harry Maguire, who was England’s best player against the Americans, agreed with Kane’s assessment. “It wasn’t at our best but in the end it’s a point and puts us in a strong position in the group,” said Maguire.
ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS: Disappointing Harry Kane gets a 5 vs USA
“We weren’t ruthless enough in the final third and didn’t execute the final pass well enough. We have good forwards so I’m sure we’ll be back next game. We knew the position in the group, we knew we stayed in control of the group with four points from two games. We wanted to win and see the job through but we’re looking forward to the game against Wales.”
Mason Mount praised Maguire’s contribution at the back. “He was heading it everywhere, putting body on the line – that’s what we want to do,” said Mount. “Defensively we stuck strong as a team. We dug in, defended our box, defended some corners, we had some question marks at the back and I think we came through it.
“We tried to play our stuff but there was a little bit of lack of technical ability in that final third. They have a very physical midfield and they’re a team that can play. You look at the big picture – not many teams win every game in the group. The most important thing is to get through and that’s the big focus now.”
USA captain Christian Pulisic, who came closest to finding a winner with his first half shot which struck the bar, was pleased with his team’s display in what was America’s first goalless draw at a World Cup – one which keeps qualification in their own hands.
Victory against Iran on Tuesday will see USA reach the knockout stages. “I think this team has come a very long way. We should be proud of the performance. It should spark confidence,” said Pulisic.
“I thought there were times we had control and had them pushed them back in their half. We were the underdogs but we went toe to toe with them and put in a really good performance.
“We are nowhere where we want to be, we still have a lot to do in this tournament. I hope we made a lot of people proud but the job is not even close to being done.” There is a short turnaround to the deciding round of group games but midfielder Declan Rice believes England will have no issues with it.
“It’s only like playing club football like playing Premier League and then in Europe,” said Rice. “We’ve been doing everything we can recovery-wise, maximising it. We have another tough one next. We need to stay positive.”