Harry Kane was “very, very low” after missing a penalty during England’s World Cup quarter-final defeat by France, but manager Gareth Southgate defended his captain and insisted he had nothing to be sorry for.
Kane had earlier scored an England equaliser from the spot, crashing the ball into the net of his Tottenham teammate Hugo Lloris to equal Wayne Rooney’s record tally of 53 England goals. But at the second time of asking, with the score now 2-1 following Olivier Giroud’s headed goal for France, Kane lashed his effort high over the crossbar and England never recovered.
Southgate revealed Kane was distraught in the dressing room after the game.
“He’s very, very low, but he’s got nothing to reproach himself for,” the manager said. “We are in the position we are as a team because of his leadership, his goals, over a long period of time. Tonight is a result of 100 minutes of football. For us there are no recriminations. We’ve always stuck together as a team and we win and lose together.”
Kane hit the first penalty to his favoured left side, and Southgate suggested the unusual scenario of taking another in the same game, against a familiar foe, may have disturbed the striker’s psychology. “It’s difficult when you get a second penalty in a game, with a goalkeeper you know so well. There’s a lot going on there.”
He added: “Harry’s the best, and the best are 85 per cent [penalty conversion rate], but even the best still miss. If we had one tomorrow, I’d still want him to take it.”
Asked what he had told the players in a huddle on the pitch after the game was lost, Southgate said: “That they know how close they’ve come, they’ve pushed a top nation all the way – more possession, more attempts on goal. I’m very proud of how they’ve played all tournament, I think we’ve shown a different side in terms of the way we’ve played. I couldn’t ask for more from the group of players or staff, but of course we’ve come up short. Tonight is very difficult.”
The manager is contracted until Euro 2024 and beyond, but will now take time to consider whether he should continue in the job after six years at the helm.
“The energy it takes is enormous. I want to make the right decision for the team, England, the FA, and I’ve got to be sure whatever decision I make is the right one. I know my feelings have fluctuated in the immediate aftermath of tournaments.”
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