Gareth Southgate was disappointed by England’s performance in a drab draw with Hungary, marred by an accusation of racist abuse towards a steward and visiting fans clashing with police.
The unbeaten Three Lions put in arguably their meekest performance of the year in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier at Wembley.
England fell behind for the first time during this qualification campaign to a Roland Sallai spot kick and failed to build on John Stones’ rapid leveller as the match ended in a lacklustre 1-1 draw.
“Difficult to pinpoint exactly because I think we had one or two tactical problems that we managed to resolve as the game progressed,” Southgate said of the performance. “But some of our quality was just really poor.
“We gave unusual passes away, we got caught in possession several times, we overran the ball quite a few times, we forced things a bit too often.
“We started the game that way and that I thought bred a little bit of anxiety in our play, which is quite unusual.
“We still had over 60% possession, I think, so we were still generally controlling the game but we didn’t really get pressure on to them as much as we have done, certainly as we did in Budapest [when England won 4-0].
“I don’t think we created the really clear chances to deserve to win the game.
“Again, I thought that meant that they had some of their counter-attacks where we weren’t in the right positions on transition and, again, I think that bred a little bit of anxiety.
“Having gone behind, I thought a good response to draw level but I don’t think we did quite enough to win the game even though we had more shots, more possession.”
England remain on course to reach next year’s World Cup in Qatar despite the draw – they need just four points from a home game with Albania and trip to San Marino in November.
But Tuesday’s game was overshadowed by issues off the pitch.
Fifa ordered Hungary to play two home matches behind closed doors, one suspended for two years, as punishment for fans’ racist behaviour towards some of the Three Lions players last month.
There were more issues as the sides faced one another at Wembley, where the Metropolitan Police confirmed a spectator was arrested for a racially aggravated public-order offence for comments directed at a steward.
The police also clashed with Hungarian fans, with the Football Association pledging to investigate the incident and report it to Fifa.
Southgate said: “Difficult for me to comment with any authority because I’m only just hearing the detail through the broadcast interviews and with what you’ve just explained.
“So, I think until I know a little bit more and exactly where we’re at, then better for me to focus on the football tonight.
“We didn’t perform at the level we needed to and I think other people are probably better placed at the moment to give you an immediate reaction on what happened off the pitch.”
Hungary counterpart Marco Rossi twice refused to comment on the issues after Tuesday’s qualifier, saying “it’s not my task and everything I could say could be interpreted in a different way”.
England defender Tyrone Mings had been unaware of fan trouble at the start of the game, but hopes a suitable punishment is meted out to anyone found guilty of racist abuse.
“Obviously, it’s very difficult for me to speak too freely on an issue that is to do with the police,” he said.
“Every time we speak about racial abuse the punishments that then follow never seem to quite be in line with what’s happened.
“But I guess I can’t speak too freely unless I know the facts and I sincerely hope that if that was the case then the punishment this time fits what’s happened.”
Hungary fans, just like last month in Budapest, expressed their opposition to England players taking the knee before kick-off, with a banner displayed underlining their stance.
“We’re certainly doing good things and I don’t think we’ve ever come away from our stance,” Mings said.
“We’ve faced backlash or criticism or opposition views before and we’ve stood collectively quite passionately together.
“That’s something that I think carries us as a squad, I think the togetherness people see is there and that doesn’t change based on banners, people’s views or based on people being opposed to what we stand for. It makes no difference to me.”
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