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April 12, 2021

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Gareth Southgate and Harry Maguire react to John Stones’ mistake against Poland

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John Stones gifted Poland an equaliser before setting up England’s winner (Picture: Getty)

Gareth Southgate and Harry Maguire jumped to John Stones’ defence after his mistake in England’s 2-1 victory over Poland and praised the centre-back for his part in the winning goal which ensured a maximum nine points from their three World Cup 2022 qualifiers.

England took the lead in Wednesday’s hard-fought Group I clash thanks to Harry Kane’s early penalty but Poland were gifted in equaliser in the 58th minute after Stones conceded possession on the edge of the box.

And while Jakub Moder kept his composure to level for the visitors, Stones picked himself up to assist Maguire’s emphatic strike with five minutes remaining on the clock.

The Manchester City defender met Phil Foden’s corner with a brilliant leap and put the ball on a plate for Maguire, who lashed the ball past Wojciech Szczesny to ensure the Three Lions’ 100 per cent record in qualifying remained intact.

Stones responded well to set up Maguire’s winner in the 85th minute (Picture: Getty)

On Stones’ blunder just before the hour-mark, Southgate told ITV Sport: ‘He’s managed to compose himself for the rest of the game and had a part in the winning goal which was important.

‘You can fold in those moments and he didn’t.

‘He’s been having a really good season. He’s made a mistake tonight, he knows that.

‘But he bounced back from it during the game and he’s got to keep doing that.’

The Manchester City leapt well to assist Maguire (Picture: Getty)

Asked whether the City centre-half has shown enough to nail down a place at the heart of England’s defence, Southgate replied: ‘Everybody’s got a lot to play for in terms of that.

‘We’ve seen tonight that we’ve played a very good Polish side and I think we’ve done a lot of good things this week but there’s still a step to go.

‘We have had a lot of players missing that might have been able to refresh the team across the last two matches and I think in the end that slight fatigue started to tell.

‘But the players stuck at it and they deserved the win.’

Kane fired England in front from the penalty spot (Picture: Getty)

Maguire backed Stones to ‘come back stronger’ following his ‘little blip’ in the testing qualifier.

‘John’s been brilliant this year so we’re defenders, we make mistakes and when we make mistakes we get scrutinised,’ Maguire said.

‘He’s had a brilliant year, he’s had a great camp as well. Obviously he’s made one little mistake but he makes up for it with a great header at the back post.

‘I said to him “keep going and we’ll get the win” and we managed to do that.

‘We’re defenders, we always make mistakes. Obviously we don’t like making mistakes but sometimes we are at fault for goals, we’re not perfect by all means.

‘John has had a little blip tonight but he’ll come back stronger. He’s in great form for club and country and he’s been brilliant during over this camp apart from that little mistake which he made and I’m sure he’ll not make it again soon.

‘It was a big performance from him to come back strong with the reaction he made.

‘To get the assist as well was important for the team.’


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