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Southgate: England's performance 'a step in the right direction'

Stefano Guidi / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Gareth Southgate was upbeat after his England side suffered relegation into Nations League B, claiming his side played better than Italy for long periods of Friday's meeting at San Siro.

The 1-0 defeat marked the Three Lions' fifth straight competitive outing without a goal from open play. Their Nations League campaign has yielded two points from five matches thus far, including June's embarrassing 4-0 home loss to Hungary.

"It's difficult for me to be too critical of the performance. We had more possession, more shots, more shots on target," Southgate said post-match, according to BBC Sport's Alex Howell.

"For large parts of the game, we played very well. We didn't deal with the decisive moment defensively. We had moments where we had the chance to be decisive in their final third, (but) our quality wasn't quite right."

Giacomo Raspadori was the difference between the two sides. The Napoli frontman delivered an unstoppable finish inside the far post after controlling a long ball with a beautiful first touch and squirming away from Kyle Walker.

England is now suffering its worst run of results since 2014 under Roy Hodgson.

"It's a spell where ultimately results are going to be the thing that everyone reacts to, but I thought there were a lot of positives for us as a team tonight," Southgate continued.

"Lots of good individual performances. I personally thought the performance is a step in the right direction. I completely understand because of the result that is not going to be the reaction."

Southgate and his team was booed by England's away support in Milan.

"I understand the reaction at the end because that's the results we've had in this competition, and yeah, it's an understandable emotional reaction," Southgate said.

England takes on Germany at Wembley on Monday to round off its Nations League commitments. It's the Three Lions' final match before their World Cup opener against Iran on Nov. 21.

Southgate: England's performance 'a step in the right direction'
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