England THROUGH to Euro 2024 knockouts without playing their final group game despite underwhelming tournament

England THROUGH to Euro 2024 knockouts without playing their final group game despite underwhelming tournament

ENGLAND are already through to the knockout stages of Euro 2024 – thanks to tonight’s results in Group B.

The Three Lions take on Slovenia in their final Group C match in Cologne tomorrow evening.

APEngland booked their place in the last 16 with a game to spare[/caption]

GettyGareth Southgate will want an improved performance and win against Slovenia[/caption]

They need a win to guarantee top spot – and therefore an ‘easier’ last-16 tie.

However, their place in the next round has been confirmed by Albania’s loss to Spain.

England go into the Slovenia game already on four points from beating Serbia and a draw with Denmark.

Gareth Southgate’s men cannot finish bottom of the group – even a defeat can only see them drop to third because Denmark and Serbia cannot both win and overtake England’s points tally.

And with the four best third-placed teams in the six Euro 2024 groups going through, those four points are already enough to get through.

In Group A, Germany and Switzerland are through with Hungary taking third on three points.

And in Group B tonight, Spain beat Albania 1-0, while Italy scored a dramatic 98th-minute goal to draw 1-1 with Croatia.

Spain were already group winners by virtue of beating Italy, but they finished the group with maximum points.

And the late drama meant Italy went through in second with four points, while Croatia are all but out in third place with just two points.

That result was irrelevant for England, with the Three Lions just needing Albania not to win. That’s because it wasn’t possible for Italy and Croatia to both reach four points as they were playing each other.

And therefore England will be at worst the fourth-best third-placed team at Euro 2024 and safely into the last 16.

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Of course, Southgate is desperate to finish top of Group C with seven points from a possible nine by beating Slovenia.

His tactics, the team selection and the players have been widely criticised for their performances so far.

But Harry Kane and Declan Rice bit back in a defiant response, with the skipper reminding the likes of Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer that they did not win a major tournament for their country.

Jack Wilshere: Southgate must be brave with Rice

By Jack Wilshere

GARETH SOUTHGATE should be brave and play Declan Rice as our sole holding midfielder.

But if England manager Southgate doesn’t want to do that — and he probably doesn’t ­— then he needs to give Rice the chance to play more like he does for Arsenal.

Let’s be absolutely clear here. Rice was so important for us again during that first half against Denmark.

The fact that he had a difficult second 45 minutes showed how much England were struggling.

Rice himself would hold his hands up and say he gave away the ball too often.

But what I took overall from his performance is that he needs more help in the engine room.

Read here how Jack Wilshere would resolve the Declan Rice dilemma.

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Trent Alexander-Arnold’s experiment in midfield is set to be cut short – with Conor Gallagher coming in to take his place in the starting XI.

And fans hope the dreaded ‘ITV curse’ doesn’t strike again.

England have won seven, drawn 13 and lost ten of their 30 major tournament matches on the channel since 1998 – but have won 20 out of 29 on the BBC in that time.

Pundits and legends lay into England

ENGLAND’s lifeless display in the 1-1 draw with Denmark left pundits and legends queuing up to take a dig at Gareth Southgate’s team.

Here’s the best of what was said…

ALAN SHEARER

“Awful performance, particularly after going up in the game.

“I don’t think one England player can look at themselves and say, ‘I’ve done my job tonight’.

“England were all over the place, far too sloppy in possession, gave the ball away too much and got caught too many times.

“There was no energy, no pace, no guile — Southgate is simply not getting the best out of England’s best players.

“It’s concerning and Gareth will get some serious questions.

“You saw England players lying on their backs — they look absolutely shattered but there’s no excuse for that.”

GARY LINEKER

The BBC host called the performance “lifeless and tepid”.

On Harry Kane he said: “He needs his manager to ask more of him. I would have expected that if I’d put in that kind of performance.”

RIO FERDINAND

“The players don’t look the same as they do for their clubs. It is a big concern.”

ROY KEANE

“Courage and bravery, we’re not really seeing it.

“There’s something amiss with the balance. Bellingham is waving his arms.

“This is a big test for Gareth. It looks like he’s overthinking things.”

JAMIE CARRAGHER

“My big worry watching this and for the rest of the tournament?

“England look absolutely knackered. They can’t get close to the ball.

“The surest sign of fatigue is dropping deep.

“Declan Rice is having to cover so much ground. No-one can convince me this is a strategy.”

JACK WILSHERE

“It’s strange that we have taken the lead in both games so far, yet instead of it settling us down and giving us the confidence to play, we have failed to take control.

“But what was most worrying was that Denmark had a clear way of playing — while we didn’t.”

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