Manager Gareth Southgate said England “left everything out there” after falling to an extra-time defeat by Croatia in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
England were hoping to reach a first World Cup final since 1966, but let an early lead slip to lose 2-1.“I think in the first half we were really good and maybe we could have got another goal,” Southgate told ITV.
“I can’t ask for more from the players. I think knockout football is about fine margins and when you have good spells against fine sides you need to take your chances.
“Tonight we weren’t quite there but we will learn from that. We left everything out there.”
Southgate said the players were deeply disappointed, but that his young team could achieve great things in the years to come, with the European Championship just two years away.
“It’s impossible to say anything to make the players feel better at this moment in time,” he said.
“We have to be proud of what we’ve achieved. I don’t think anyone could have given any more.“Players had run out of steam but that’s partly their age — they’re still physically maturing. Croatia have hardened warriors whose understanding of big matches at times came to the fore.
“The players have to go through big matches and experiences to become a team that can win. They have to use this experience for benefit and I know that what’s happened over the last few weeks will make them a stronger team.”
Harry Kane looks set to claim the Golden Boot as the World Cup’s leading scorer, but the Tottenham star rarely looked like adding to his six goals against Croatia.
“I think he’s given absolutely everything for the team,” Southgate said of the 24-year-old England captain.
“I think now is the time for us to be strong as a group and take the time to reflect on the performance a little bit over the next couple of days.”