5 things Southgate learnt as England held to WC qualifier draw with Hungary

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It was a disappointing night for England as they were held by Hungary to draw 1-1 at Wembley and stall their World Cup qualifying hopes.

Despite dominating the first half, England found themselves behind after Luke Shaw's high boot resulted in a Hungary penalty and Roland Sallai dispatched with ease, but John Stones bundled in Phil Foden's whipped free-kick to level the score before the break.

England failed to create chances, which was the tale of the game as they held possession but didn't do an awful lot with it, allowing the visitors to leave with a valuable point.

With Poland winning away against Albania, England sit just three points ahead of them to slightly complicate things in their qualifying group, meaning that their games against Albania and San Marino must be won to top the group.

England had to settle for the draw, and here's five things Gareth Southgate learned from their victory over Hungary…

City contingent could be the way forward

Southgate's starting line-up featured five Manchester City players, and England's opening goal was purely down to three members of Pep Guardiola's side.

Jack Grealish won England a free-kick in a promising position, and Foden whipped in the ball which was turned in by Stones, as the City stars dominated all game long.

Kyle Walker was exceptional during the European Championships in the summer, and Raheem Sterling stepped up as one of England's biggest stars on their route to the final, with the Premier League champions proving valuable big game assets for Southgate.

City's possessive style of play compliments Southgate's intentions, and their link-up clearly benefits England on the pitch, with Harry Kane potentially adding to the City domination should he finally get his move next summer.

Jack Grealish must start

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Grealish oozes class whenever he steps foot on the pitch, and his intricate flicks and positive driving force caused Hungary all sorts of problems, switching between the left, right and even running through the middle.

The Premier League's record signing is also one of the best in the world at winning free-kicks, and it was from this that England got their breakthrough against Hungary at Wembley.

Although there were barely any negatives from England's exceptional Euro 2022 run in the summer, one talking point was that Southgate's side weren't as prolific from set pieces as usual, but Grealish could solve that.

The former Aston Villa captain has won more free-kicks than any other player over the last two seasons in the Premier League, and could create so many extra opportunities for England.

England might find more luck without Harry Kane

Kane looks a different player to the one that starred last season, and his failed move to Manchester City looks to have had an affect on the striker's performance.

Kane has found the net on four occasions for Tottenham this season, but three of those came against FC Mura in the UEFA Conference League, and the England captain doesn't appear to be himself.

Kane was replaced by Tammy Abraham as England went in search of a winner, as the Tottenham star was silent all game, and struggled to even make a dent in the Hungary defence.

The change in attacker brought a new style to Englands front line and freshened things up, which could be essential if Kane's off spell becomes a recurring problem.

England are fragile without Harry Maguire

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Harry Maguire has really stepped up another level after being named Manchester United captain, and his bullet header against Ukraine in the summer was always inevitable as he is such a presence in the area.

He is also essential at the back, and made up a resilient back-line during the summer, alongside Stones, Luke Shaw and Kyle Walker, but they look fragile without him.

Maguire is currently out injured after being taken off during United's 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in September, and it's in his absence that highlights just how important he is for club and country.

England looked nervous at times against Hungary and lacked that physical unit in the centre of defence, which played a part in conceding the penalty which put the visitors ahead after the ball was cleared in desperation.

Dominating the ball doesn't always mean dominating the game

England controlled the game tonight, as they usually do, but the amount of ball possession they had didn't match up with the chances that they created against Hungary.

Of course, you can't concede when you have the ball, but Hungary had one chance and took it, whereas England over-played it at times and waited for the perfect chance to appear instead of being more direct.

This was the tale of England's Euro 2022 group stage, as they failed to concede but only scored twice as well, before turning it on during the knockout rounds.

At home, when teams are coming to Wembley to sit back and try and leave with a point, Southgate should try to be more direct as chances will be slim when trying to carve the perfect opening, especially when ten men usually sit behind the ball.

  • England Football Team
  • Gareth Southgate
  • The Inside Track – Football
  • The Inside Track

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