Gareth Southgate acknowledged England must improve if they are to win Euro 2024 after failing to guarantee their place in the knockout stages with a 1-1 draw against Denmark on Thursday.
A point was the least the Danes deserved as England again flattered to deceive in Frankfurt after an underwhelming 1-0 win over Serbia to open their tournament.
Harry Kane had given the Three Lions an early lead as England pounced on a Danish defensive error.
Morten Hjulmand’s rocket from outside the box levelled before half-time and Denmark were left to rue missing late chances to secure a famous victory.
“There’s a huge amount of work to do, that’s evident from the two performances we have given – clearly it was not what we would’ve hoped for,” said Southgate.
“We understand people will be disappointed with the performances and rightly so. We have to make them a lot better.”
England remain on top of Group C, two points clear of Slovenia, who they face in Cologne on Tuesday, and Denmark.
Serbia’s late equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Slovenia earlier on Thursday also keeps their destiny in their own hands.
England only need a point to secure qualification and would win the group with victory in their final game of the section.
Southgate said on Wednesday that he avoids media coverage during tournaments to escape negative stories.
But he accepted more criticism will come after another flat display from one of the pre-tournament favourites.
Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel claimed on the eve of the game they would not be fuelled by revenge for their Euro 2020 semi-final heartbreak to England three years ago.
However, the Danes were a different beast from the side that disappointed at the 2022 World Cup and in drawing against Slovenia to open their tournament in Germany.
Denmark had made the brighter start as both sides struggled to cope with a bobbly pitch in Frankfurt that cut up badly in just its second game of five at Euro 2024.
Yet, England capitalised on a howler from Hjulmand’s men to take the lead on 18 minutes.
Victor Kristiansen was caught unaware of Kyle Walker’s run down the right and his deflected low cross fell perfectly for Kane to roll in his 13th goal at major tournaments.
Failing to build on early 1-0 leads has been a consistent criticism of England under Southgate.
This time Denmark were not deterred by conceding, although it took a spectacular strike to bring them level.
Hjulmand was given far too much room by the England midfield to take aim but he took full advantage form long range with a blistering shot that clipped the inside of the post on its way in.
Phil Foden’s form for England had been a source of much debate after he again failed to shine at international level against Serbia.
The Manchester City playmaker looked much more like the man that won Premier League player of the year awards this season and was inches away from restoring England’s lead with a low drive that came crashing back off the post.
Southgate’s caution has been criticised in the past, but he was bold with his changes in the search for a winner as Kane, Foden and Bukayo Saka were sacrificed for Eberechi Eze, Ollie Watkins and Jarrod Bowen.
“We thought we needed to get speed and energy in the front line was important,” added Southgate in explaining his decisions.
Watkins nearly made an immediate impact as he was denied by Schmeichel after a brilliant through ball from Jude Bellingham.
Yet, it was Denmark who had the better chances to take all three points in the closing stages.
Andreas Christensen spooned over when unmarked from a corner before Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg curled inches wide.
“I can’t say we are disappointed but it’s a shame. There was a result there we could have gotten,” said Danish coach Hjulmand.

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