Euro 2020 final: Southgate pays tribute to England fans ahead of Italy showdown

By Sports Desk July 11, 2021

Gareth Southgate has offered heartfelt thanks to England fans for their support ahead of a first major tournament final appearance in 55 years.

The Three Lions have played five of their six games en route to the showpiece fixture of Euro 2020 in front of a partisan crowd at Wembley Stadium.

And they will contest a sixth at their home ground on Sunday when they take on Italy aiming to win a first piece of silverware since the 1966 World Cup.

Ahead of that showdown, Southgate has placed on his record his appreciation for the backing he and his team have received both from the stands and further afield.

He said: "I just wanted to take the time to say thank you to everybody for the incredible support we've received throughout this tournament. 

"We hope that we've represented you in the right way, we hope that you've enjoyed watching us play. 

"I'm very grateful to all of the players and in the incredible staff I've got with me that we've been able to get to our first final for 55 years, but of course we know now we've got to deliver for you. 

"We'll be doing everything we can, your support and energy has given us a huge lift and I know it will on Sunday."

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    Luis Suarez feels no need to apologise for his handball against Ghana 12 years ago, as he hopes to propel Uruguay into the World Cup last 16.

    Having taken a point from their opening two matches in Qatar, Uruguay must beat Ghana on Friday to progress from Group H.

    However, the game at Al Janoub Stadium is something of a grudge match - at least from the point of view of Ghana supporters.

    While the Black Stars coach Otto Addo insisted Ghana will not be out for revenge, Suarez has been a hugely unpopular figure in the African nation since he handled on the line to deny Dominic Adiyiah a goal in extra-time of a World Cup quarter-final tie in 2010.

    Suarez was sent off, but Asamoah Gyan hit the crossbar from the resulting spot-kick, with Uruguay going on to progress to the semi-finals by winning the penalty shoot-out.

    The former Liverpool and Barcelona star has never considered apologising, though.

    "I don't apologise for that," he said in a press conference. 

    "I did the handball, but the Ghana player missed a penalty, not me.

    "Maybe I could apologise if I injured the player, but in this situation I was sent off, the ref said penalty – it's not my fault, because I didn't miss the penalty.

    "It's not my responsibility to score the penalty."

    When it was put to Suarez that Ghana, who could go through with a point, might be even more motivated if he plays in what could well be his final World Cup game, the 35-year-old suggested an obsession with revenge is unhealthy.

    "I haven't thought about this. I don't know what people are saying or if they want revenge," he replied.

    "The players who might play tomorrow might've been eight years old back then, will they be motivated? Some people might call me the Devil.

    "We beat Portugal in 2018, have you heard Portuguese people saying they needed revenge because we lost?"

    Suarez also referenced the incident involving Giorgio Chiellini in the 2014 World Cup, when the Uruguay forward bit the Italy defender on the shoulder.

    "What I did to Chiellini, I made a mistake, but afterwards we played together in the Champions League and shook hands," he added.

    "You can't focus on the past and revenge, that can be counter-productive."

    Uruguay coach Diego Alonso said: "For us it's a defining match and that's what matters, I don't know if Ghana will want revenge, we respect them and we will try to be better to be able to qualify."

    His counterpart Addo, meanwhile, reiterated Ghana's minds are not fixed on revenge.

    "This is what I wish from every player, to do all they can to get to the semi-final of a World Cup. Maybe sacrifice themselves. This is my perspective," he said.

    "It was very sad what happened in 2010, but we can't change it. In general, it is about perspective," Addo said.

    "If the same incident had happened the other way round people would have talked about it, so for me it is not a big topic. We are going into the match like any other."

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    Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope and Harry Brook all made centuries as an electric and record-hungry England piled on the runs on day one of the first Test against Pakistan.

    A virus in the tourist camp threatened to delay England's first five-day game on Pakistan soil since 2005 but by stumps it was Pakistan who were feeling sick at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium as the visitors closed on 506-4.

    Having reached 174-0 by lunch, the most runs scored in the first session of a Test, Crawley reached three figures early after the restart having overturned an lbw decision on review a few balls earlier.

    His hundred came off just 86 balls, the fastest for an England opener, while Duckett – who returned at the top of the order for his first Test in six years – seized his opportunity to also reach three figures.

    A missed sweep off Zahid Mahmood (2-160) sent Duckett (107) packing lbw and Crawley (122) soon became debutant Haris Rauf's (1-78) first Test victim.

    Joe Root (23) fell cheaply after a swift half-century stand with Pope but that was Pakistan's only real spell on top as the latter piled on the runs with Brook.

    Together, they made put on 176 for the fourth wicket as Pope (108) celebrated a third Test century prior to falling leg-before for Mohammad Ali's (1-96) maiden Test scalp.

    Brook (101no) went on to make his first Test ton as England became the first team to make 500 runs on day one of a Test in what was a glorious display of what has become dubbed 'Bazball'.

     

    CRAWLEY AND DUCKETT SET THE TONE

    Crawley and Duckett were the perfect foil on admittedly ideal conditions for scoring, the former driving to the covers at will, while the latter swept with impeccable timing.

    England have had well-documented issues at the top of the order and Duckett, playing in just his fifth Test, laid down a big marker on his return to the team.

    POPE AND BROOK GO FOR THE JUGULAR

    There was a very fleeting spell from Pakistan in the second session but all in all it was a day of toil for the hosts' bowling unit.

    Pope was fluent throughout and Brook, who looks a star in the making, was rapid with his knock including six fours from as many balls off Saud Shakeel in the 68th over.

    Brook had two maximums and 14 fours. He will return to the crease with captain Ben Stokes (34no) on Friday.

  • France file complaint to FIFA over disallowed Griezmann goal France file complaint to FIFA over disallowed Griezmann goal

    France have filed a complaint to FIFA over the decision to disallow Antoine Griezmann's late goal in Wednesday's shock 1-0 World Cup loss to Tunisia.

    Griezmann thought he had cancelled out Wahbi Khazri's strike when he volleyed home in the eighth minute of stoppage time at Education City Stadium.

    However, after the celebrations had died down, referee Michael Conger ruled out Griezmann's goal for an offside infringement.

    The Atletico Madrid forward was adjudged to have been offside when firing in from Aurelien Tchouameni's pass, which took a deflection off a Tunisian defender.

    However, the French Football Federation (FFF) believe the officials were wrong to disallow the goal as play had already restarted when VAR intervened, which is prohibited.

    "We are writing a complaint after Antoine Griezmann's goal was, in our opinion, wrongly disallowed," said a widely released statement from the FFF on Wednesday. 

    "This complaint has to be filed within 24 hours after the final whistle."

    Khazri's superb strike at Education City Stadium ended reigning world champions France's nine-game unbeaten run in the competition stretching back to the 2014 quarter-finals.

    However, the result ultimately meant little in the context of Group D as France still went through in top spot and Australia claimed second place with a 1-0 win over Denmark.

    Should France be successful with their appeal and the scoreline is changed to 1-1, the final points tallies in Group D will change but not the positions of any of the four sides.

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