The red mist descended on England last night as Denmark ran out 1-0 winners in their Nations League clash at Wembley – so what did we learn from the shock defeat for Gareth Southgate’s men?
Sending off masks England inadequacies
There’s no doubt Harry Maguire’s sending off was a game-changing moment – the defender deservedly picked up two bookings for a pair of poorly-timed tackles that left England up against it.
His form is a concern, but to lay all the blame at Maguire’s door ignores a poor opening 30 minutes where Southgate’s men struggled to create chances or take control of proceedings.
Last week’s Belgium victory aside, flat and uninspiring performances have been the order of the day for England in this Nations League campaign.
Centurions’ delight for Denmark
Former Tottenham star Christian Eriksen and AC Milan defender Simon Kjaer marked their 100th caps for Denmark with vital contributions in a memorable win.
It was Eriksen – now with 32 goals in his last 35 international matches – who converted a 34th minute penalty after the softest of fouls on Thomas Delaney by Kyle Walker.
Not to be outdone, Kjaer’s excellent block denied Conor Coady a dramatic equaliser in the game’s closing stages.
James performance draws plaudits despite late red
Despite Reece James’ late red card for dissent, the youngster’s display at right wing-back was one of the highlights of a difficult night for the Three Lions.
Even though they struggled to create clear-cut chances, most of England’s positive play did come down the right where James combined well with fellow Chelsea man Mason Mount.
Southgate has a plethora of options to choose from at right-back, but James showed he belongs at the top level.
Not all doom and gloom for England
Defeat to Denmark feels deflating after victory against a world No1 Belgium, but the Danes are no fools.
They have lost just one game in their past 20 matches and have kept clean sheets in 13 of those games.
With that in mind, it’s perhaps unsurprising the Three Lions were unable to score with only ten men on the pitch for an hour of Wednesday’s encounter and they deserve some credit for coming close on a handful of occasions in the second half.
How can England bounce back?
Failure to qualify for the Nations League finals is far from a foregone conclusion but looks challenging.
In all likelihood Southgate’s team will have to win their remaining games, away in Belgium and at home to Iceland, if they want to overtake the Red Devils at the top of the table.
They’ll also need to overtake Denmark, who are marginally ahead with superior goal difference.
League A Group 2 looks set for a thrilling conclusion when the competition returns next month.