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'They know what a threat he is' - Southgate defends Kane after quiet game in England victory

18:05 BST 13/06/2021
Harry Kane Gareth Southgate England vs Croatia Euro 2020
The Three Lions skipper was kept relatively buttoned up by his opponents amid his side's Group D opener, though his coach was quick to hail his impact

Gareth Southgate has come to Harry Kane's defence following a quiet afternoon for the England captain in their Euro 2020 victory against Croatia at Wembley Stadium.

The Three Lions skipper, on the back of a third Premier Legaue Golden Boot-winning campaign with Tottenham this season, was unable to find the mark in the opening game of Group D, with Raheem Sterling's tidy finish the difference in London.

The Spurs forward was kept relatively buttoned up by his opponents throughout, restricted to fewer touches than any other member of England's starting line-up, but speaking after the full-time whistle, his coach was quick to highlight his contributions throughout.

What has been said?

"I think he led the line really well," Southgate told his post-match press conference. "It was a game where he had to take a lot of physical buffeting.

"A lot of the game for him today was to link and create spaces, which he did for the goal, to let others play. There are days when chances will fall to him but today he was really tightly marked by their team.

"They know what a threat he is, [and they] crowded [him] out. [I've] not seen the chance at far post yet, to see how good that was. But he brings so much more to our team than the goals."

Southgate praises midfield contribution

The 50-year-old was also keen to counter suggestions that his side are struggling to get players in behind Kane as a target man, pointing to the scorching conditions at Wembley as a key factor in their more measured approach.

"It happened a fair amount and we got Kalvin and Mason in there too," he added. "Part of that was the heat, incredible conditions.

"They're fortunate [they] could keep [it] better than [the] team I played in as we'd have been chasing forever!

"We knew we had to pick moments when to keep possession and get behind. You always have to have runs to disrupt the back-line."

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