Scriptwriter Bellingham thrills England boss Southgate

By Sports Desk June 16, 2024

Gareth Southgate said Jude Bellingham "writes his own scripts" after the England star sealed a 1-0 win for the Three Lions over Serbia.

The Real Madrid midfielder was on target in Gelsenkirchen to take his international tally to four goals, becoming just the second player to score at both the World Cup and Euros before the age of 21 in the process.

Bellingham timed his run into the penalty area to perfection to head Bukayo Saka's cross beyond Predrag Rajkovic, and put on yet another mature display way beyond his years.

"I mean he writes his own scripts doesn't he," Southgate told BBC Sport.

"The timing of his runs, it was a super bit of play in the build-up to the goal as well, and I thought at different moments all of our forward players looked dangerous."

Southgate maintained his record of winning the opening in all four of the major tournaments that he has been in the England dugout, with only Alf Ramsey having a better win rate at international competitions. 

England dominated the first half, but were forced to grind out the victory against a revitalised Serbia side following the interval.

Southgate feels the way in which the game played out was good for his team heading into the encounter with Denmark on Thursday, though.

"That's the reality of tournaments," said Southgate when asked if the victory was tougher than he was expecting. 

"They are a strong team, and we had to suffer a bit which I think is really good for us to come through and defend out box the way we did was important for the group. 

"We obviously had good chances to extend our lead and to kill the game which we didn't manage to take, so I was really pleased with a lot of the play, especially the first half."

England were limited to just five shots throughout the contest, with Harry Kane coming closest in the second half as he saw his header brilliantly tipped onto the crossbar by Rajkovic. 

Southgate referenced the difficulty of playing against Serbia's compact defensive rearguard, but was confident his forward line will be firing on all cylinders in the fixtures that follow.

"Today was just the finishing and a good save from the goalkeeper with the header towards the end. But that will come," he added.

"I am confident that we will score goals. We were playing against a back five which is not easy to create chances but we did and in the end, one was enough. 

"I liked the fact that we had to suffer a bit without the ball because I think that is an area we have worked on a lot this week, and we were obviously so much better than we were last week in doing that."

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