The major talking points from England’s Nations League defeat to Holland

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England lost 3-1 to Holland in the Nations League semi-final and will now face Switzerland in the third-place play-off on Sunday.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the talking points from the defeat in Portugal.

Sterling the skipper


The Manchester City forward took the captaincy in his stride on his 50th appearance for the Three Lions. While he was not at his scintillating best it would have been a useful exercise for Gareth Southgate, knowing he can give Sterling the armband in the future. He was not overawed and being skipper is a sign of his growing maturing over the last two years.

England’s defence still needs to improve

Netherlands v England – Nations League – Semi Final – Estadio D. Alfonso Henriques
England defender John Stones was at the centre of Holland’s goals (Tim Goode/PA)

Twelve months ago it was John Stones who switched off to allow Mario Mandzukic to knock England out of the World Cup and there are still lapses at crucial times. In Portugal he gifted Holland a second in extra-time having allowed Matthijs De Ligt to exploit some familiar frailties as he beat him and Kyle Walker to level in Guimaraes. Stones and Ross Barkley then combined to give the ball away for Holland’s third with Harry Maguire also having nervy moments.

Alli should be worried


After an underwhelming season at Tottenham, Dele Alli should fear for his England place. While he may not have started having played in Saturday’s Champions League final defeat, Alli is not guaranteed a spot. Despite the third goal, the combative Barkley showed he can take Alli’s spot and his range of passing – including a sumptuous pass for Jesse Lingard’s disallowed goal – also impressed.

Delph proves the exception to the rule

Netherlands v England – Nations League – Semi Final – Estadio D. Alfonso Henriques
England boss Gareth Southgate has remained loyal to Fabian Delph. (Mike Egerton/PA)

Southgate has previously said he would pick players on form and not reputation but the Manchester City midfielder is clearly a favourite. Delph started just one Premier League game after Christmas as he watched City’s title win from the sidelines. He admitted last week he was always honoured to be selected for England but his start against Holland proved he is one of Southgate’s go-to guys.

Teams must get used to VAR frustration

Lingard looked to have put England into the final with his cool strike only for the Video Assistant Referee to disallow it for offside. It was the tightest of decisions and stopped England’s celebrations in their tracks. While it was correct – with Lingard’s toe offside – the agonising delay will become the norm.



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