Gareth Southgate explained his decision to take off substitute Jack Grealish was a defensive one during England’s win over Denmark.
England booked their place in their first major tournament final in 55 years after coming back from a goal down to beat Denmark in extra-time at Wembley.
Grealish was used as an impact sub, introduced with 20 minutes of normal time but was then hooked in extra-time after Harry Kane scored England’s winner.
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“Jack had a brilliant influence on the game,” Southgate explained.
Denmark threw four forwards forward and we needed five [defenders] back.
“Raheem [Sterling] was such a threat that it was either going to be Phil [Foden] or Jack to get the solidity without the ball.
“We still needed to get that pressure up the pitch. We sank a little bit too deep for five minutes or so.
“We just needed to keep the ball and it took us five minutes to work that out. When we started to keep it, we were running the clock down with a lot less anxiety.”
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Southgate insisted the call was ‘not an easy decision’ and revealed Grealish was not upset with the substitution.
“Raheem was causing so many problems all night it had to be Phil or Jack coming off, it was not an easy decision,” Southgate said.
In the end Jack said: ‘I’m not really bothered we made the final!’ He had the impact we wanted in the game.
“They’ve found ways to win matches in whatever circumstances they’re in,” he continued.
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“Leading from the front, going behind, extra time, penalties, they’ve found those solutions. I felt we were dominating in the last half hour of normal time. Extra time we had more legs and energy.”
The Three Lions head coach also confirmed the substitution had nothing to do with a potential injury to Grealish ahead of the Italy showdown on Sunday.
“At the moment it seems everybody come through the game OK in terms of injury,” Southgate said.
“Not sure this is the best moment to assess everything, but they’re not reporting anything.”
England reached the Euro 2020 final despite going behind in the first half to a brilliant free-kick effort from Mikkel Damsgaard.
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The Three Lions hit back six minutes before the break when Simon Kjaer turned in Bukayo Saka’s cross.
Kane then scored the winner in extra-time, scoring from a rebound after seeing his controversial penalty saved.
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