‘Calm’ Kane rounds on England’s Euro 2024 critics

Portugal cruise into Euro 2024 knockout stages, Belgium bounce back with a 2-0 win over Romania

AFP June 24, 2024
Belgium’s midfielder Kevin De Bruyne celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s second goal during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group E football match. PHOTO: AFP


England captain Harry Kane said there was no need to panic over the Three Lions slow start to Euro 2024 as he rounded on critics back home of their performances in Germany.

Gareth Southgate’s men have taken four points from their opening two games, but have not lived up to their billing as pre-tournament favourites.

Kane scored in Thursday’s disappointing 1-1 draw against Denmark after an edgy 1-0 win over Serbia.

“We are calm. We have been here before. We’ve got a lot of experience, so it’s not a time to panic,” Kane told reporters on Sunday.

“I think always in these tournaments, especially these early stages, is almost like a boxer in the first couple of rounds trying to see where everyone is at, or a golfer in the first round of a major - don’t play yourself out of tournament. That’s kind of where we’re at.”

Victory against Slovenia on Tuesday will ensure that England top Group C and avoid a potential last 16 clash with Germany.

“If, before the tournament you’d have said we are where we are now, nearly qualified, we would have taken it for sure,” added Kane.

“But we can be honest with ourselves that we haven’t played the way we want to play

“Tuesday is important for the feeling of the group, we want to finish top and take the momentum into the knockout stages and just all round have a better feeling coming off the pitch to take that into the rest of the tournament.”

Kane was on the end of a barrage of personal criticism from former England strikers Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer as England’s performance against Denmark was lambasted in the media.

England have not won a major men’s tournament since the 1966 World Cup and produced their best ever performance at the Euros three years ago when they lost the final on penalties to Italy.

Kane said he understood pundits have to give their opinions but called for some perspective from former players.

“The bottom line is we’re trying to achieve something that as an England team we’ve never achieved in our history, so it’s very tough,” added the Bayern Munich striker.

“What ex-players who are pundits now have got to realise is that it’s very hard not to listen to it now, especially for some players who are not used to it or some players who are new to the environment.

Portugal sails smoothly

Portugal outclassed Turkey to secure their place in the last 16 of Euro 2024 with a 3-0 win in Dortmund on Saturday, while Belgium kept their hopes alive with a 2-0 victory over Romania.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portuguese side, European champions in 2016, are among the favourites to win the title in Germany and they lived up to their status with a comprehensive victory in front of a partisan crowd to secure first place in Group F.

Bernardo Silva of Manchester City opened the scoring midway through the first half, sweeping the ball home after a low Nuno Mendes cross was deflected into his path.

Portugal then doubled their lead just before the half-hour mark in comical fashion.

There appeared no danger for the Turkey defence following a poor pass by Joao Cancelo aimed at Ronaldo, but Samet Akaydin’s attempted backpass rolled beyond the reach of goalkeeper Altay Bayindir and crossed the line despite the efforts of Zeki Celik to clear.

Turkey never looked like getting back into the game and Portugal got their third goal early in the second half as Ronaldo found himself in on goal but unselfishly squared for Bruno Fernandes to finish.

Having already beaten the Czech Republic 2-1, Portugal are one of only three sides to have a maximum six points from their opening two games and are now certain to win the section even before playing Georgia in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday.

They therefore know they will play a last-16 tie in Frankfurt on July 1 against one of the best third-place finishers.

“We are first in the group and we can make changes in the next game which for me is very important as there are lots of players in the dressing room who deserve to play,” said Portugal coach Roberto Martinez.

Ronaldo, appearing at his sixth Euros at the age of 39, will become the tournament’s oldest ever goal-scorer if he finds the net in Germany but he failed to add to his competition record tally of 14 here.


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