England 2-0 Germany: "If it goes wrong, you're dead" - Southgate
England beat Germany on Tuesday to book a place in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals, with Gareth Southgate well aware of the price of failure.
England manager Gareth Southgate has conceded his job would have been on the line had the Three Lions not pulled off a 2-0 Euro 2020 last-16 win over Germany.
Southgate prioritises solidity over attacking flair as England see off Germans at Wembley
Reports over the past week have suggested the Football Association (FA) are keen to keep Southgate on beyond the 2022 World Cup, but he has not courted popularity with England's wider fanbase after conservative team selections throughout Euro 2020.
Those same supporters were in raptures at Wembley on Tuesday, when Raheem Sterling's third goal of the tournament and much-needed header for captain Harry Kane gave the English a stirring triumph over their old rivals.
Southgate reverted to a 3-4-3 setup to match Germany's formation, with defensive midfielders Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips stationed in front of the back three, while the likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford remained unused on the bench.
Jack Grealish did emerge after 69 minutes to provide a creative spark, having a hand in both goals, with the Aston Villa man's omission from the XI another example of Southgate failing to be persuaded by popular opinion.
3 - Raheem Sterling is only the second player to score each of England's first three goals of an edition of a major tournament (World Cup/EUROs), after @GaryLineker did so at the 1986 World Cup. Magic. pic.twitter.com/SDfOiN3GSR— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 29, 2021
"We had to go about it in a way we believe"
Speaking to BBC Sport afterwards, he acknowledged such single-mindedness comes with a price. "You know that if you change the shape, you pick certain personnel instead of others and if it goes wrong, you're dead," he said.
"We had to go about it in a way we believe. We wanted aggressive pressure all over the field. We felt that to match them up was the right way of doing that and speed in behind would cause them a problem. Bukayo [Saka] and Raheem, right from the start really created that jeopardy in their backline.
"We know that they were going to have moments of possession because they've got really good footballers and experienced players. But the whole team defended incredibly – the goalkeeper, right the way through. It was a fabulous performance, I can't give enough credit to the players."
30 - Harry Kane has scored 30 goals for @England under Gareth Southgate; in the national side's history, only @GaryLineker scored more under a single manager (35 under Sir Bobby Robson). Combo. #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/WsF5ii1TjY— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 29, 2021
Kane's first Euro 2020 goal "a really important moment" for England captain, says Southgate
Pre-tournament scrutiny over Sterling's worth to the England cause have been buried by weight of goals, but three laboured and scoreless group-stage outings prompted questions that Southgate was glad to see Kane answer.
"They both have to prove people wrong all the time," he added. "Raheem has been immense for us over a three or four-year period. We've got that faith and trust in him and his performances have been electric right from the start.
"For Harry, a really important moment I think. When you're a centre-forward, it doesn't matter what else you're doing in the game, you need those goals."
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