Ex-Sunderland ace Jordan Pickford one of few to emerge with credit as England stutter against Scotland
Ex-Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford won praise for his performance in England’s goalless draw with Scotland, one of the few players to emerge with any credit.
Five days on from kicking off Group D with a 1-0 win against Croatia, England created precious little after John Stones’ header hit the woodwork early in the 0-0 stalemate with Scotland.
It was a deflating night but the result leaves Gareth Southgate’s side second heading into Tuesday’s final match against the Czech Republic and on the cusp of qualification thanks to their four-point haul.
Pickford was picked out for praise by Gary Neville, speaking during ITV’s coverage, Neville said: “It was a really poor performance, there was massive disappointment in this ground, underpinned by poor physical levels.
"I don’t know what Gareth will be thinking about how he’ll correct that for the next game because it was really lethargic. I don’t know, was it too big for them in terms of expectation, for a few of those lads it was the biggest game they’ve ever played in.
"The media leading up to the game, sometimes it can mentally take it out of you. I have to say for the very first few minutes of the game, those balls played up towards Dykes and Adams, they got encouragement from that, they won those early balls.
"England never won the ball high up the pitch, the three midfielders for Scotland were better on the ball than England’s. In every single department today - only Pickford actually. I thought Pickford handled the set-pieces really well.
"He’s the only one that I can think of that played at a level. All over the pitch, Scotland were better and those physical levels need looking at because that was such a lacklustre display in such a big game."
Reflecting on his own performance, Pickford said: "I thought I had a good performance.
“I made one good save and came and commanded a few crosses. It’s just about being in that moment and helping your teammates out as a goalkeeper. I felt like I did that tonight — and another clean sheet which I’m pleased with.”
He added: “We want to take all three points every game we play — to win the game. The biggest thing tonight was, if we can’t win it, don’t get beaten.
"The resilience of keeping a clean sheet from the lads, that’s what we did.
"We’ve got four points, we’re still in control of the group. We’ve got to get ready for Czech Republic now.”
Southgate said 0-0 was “probably a fair scoreline” on the balance of a game in which they may have been below par but that was not going to see him throw caution to the wind.
The England boss certainly has plenty to mull over in the coming days, with the ineffective attacking display spearheaded by Harry Kane among the main talking points.
Southgate was quick to point to the collective as the focus turns to ending Group D on a high against the Czech Republic, knowing victory will see them through as pool winners.