Gareth Southgate refused to ‘hammer’ his England players despite his disappointment with their performance in the 2-0 win over Malta.

The victory – courtesy of an early own goal and Harry Kane’s second-half strike – guaranteed their place at the top of Group C, while pot one seeding for Euro 2024 is all but assured.

After a flat night at Wembley, Southgate said: ‘We didn’t hit the heights that we have done this calendar year. It was a game where we didn’t start well. 

‘If you don’t start well then it’s hard to pick your game up. We got a goal out of nothing really.

‘Our quality on the ball is not normally that level. It was one of those days where players knew they could win the game at a canter and didn’t extend themselves.

Gareth Southgate won't 'hammer' his players after England's underwhelming win over Malta

Gareth Southgate won’t ‘hammer’ his players after England’s underwhelming win over Malta

England remain undefeated in their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign after securing a 2-0 win

England remain undefeated in their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign after securing a 2-0 win

But Southgate admitted his side were not at their normal level and 'didn't extend themselves'

But Southgate admitted his side were not at their normal level and ‘didn’t extend themselves’

‘The number of games these players are playing, it’s almost a self-regulation.

‘But they have played so many matches and have done such a good job, I am not going to hammer them. 

‘I am not going to get into their ribs too much, they have been exceptional.

‘This week was always going to be difficult, we’ve already qualified. I’m not worried going forward. They will have a different level of motivation [in the future].’

One of the positives for Southgate was the performance of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield.

‘He used the ball really well,’ added the England boss. ‘He has outstanding quality. Him and Phil Foden in the first half looked like opening the game for us.

‘Marc Guehi looked good at the back and it was good to get another game under his belt.

Phil Foden helped to provide England with their opener, crossing the ball back into the box, before it was clipped into the Malta goal by Enrico Pepe

Phil Foden helped to provide England with their opener, crossing the ball back into the box, before it was clipped into the Malta goal by Enrico Pepe

Harry Kane doubled the side's lead, tapping in a well-worked team-goal in the second half

Harry Kane doubled the side’s lead, tapping in a well-worked team-goal in the second half

Southgate lumped praise on Trent Alexander-Arnold for his performance from midfield

Southgate lumped praise on Trent Alexander-Arnold for his performance from midfield

‘The changes brought quality as well and we could have scored more in the second half, but they aren’t a team that loses by fives or sixes.’

Harry Kane was booked for a dive in the first half when rounding the goalkeeper in the penalty area.

‘I thought it was a bit harsh, there was definitely contact from the goalkeeper,’ Southgate said.

The England captain added: ‘I was surprised it didn’t get overturned, but the referee has made his decision.’

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Source: | This article originally belongs to Daily Mail

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