Jordan Pickford admitted to feeling nervous when he stepped up to take a penalty in England’s shoot-out win over Switzerland.
The Guimaraes contest went to spot-kicks after a goalless 120 minutes and Pickford again came into his own, denying Josip Drmic in sudden death after scoring his own effort in emphatic fashion as the Three Lions won 6-5 on penalties.
The victory secured third place in the Nations League and afterwards Everton goalkeeper Pickford told Sky Sports: “It was a very tough game.
“We showed character and belief again. Sometimes it’s hard to get up for a game like this, but it just shows us where we want to go and how we get better as a team and bounce back.
“We always say, ‘Do what it takes to win a game’, and I was a bit nervous taking my penalty – but I’m not nervous saving them.
“We practise them when there’s a major competition or the Nations League, we practise them consistently.
“I picked my spot and I always seem to be able to get a goal, but I’ve never taken one in a real game, so I was a bit nervous.
“I think we took (off) Harry Kane and some of the other lads who take penalties, so I wasn’t sure where I was in the pecking order. But it’s what you practise for, you practise all the time to make sure you make it easier on the day.”
Pickford sent Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer the wrong way with a confident finish and the England man added: “It’s all about routine, I would say.
“You watch the top penalty takers, and Harry Kane’s got his own routine, so you’ve got to create your own routine to make sure everything’s done to perfection.”
England lost to the Netherlands on Thursday and, asked for his thoughts on the Nations League campaign, Pickford added: “I think the biggest learning curve was Thursday night. We learned that we need to see a game out better and maybe get that next goal.
“But you can only learn by defeat really, I think these two games were a lot better than playing two qualifying games so that’s massive for us going into the qualifying campaign for the Euros.”
Wayne Rooney believes England risk “starting from scratch” if they do not persevere with playing out from defence.
Gareth Southgate’s side saw their Nations League ambitions ended by the Netherlands at the semi-final stage on Thursday after being punished for risky play at the back from John Stones and Ross Barkley.
Despite the 3-1 extra-time loss in Portugal, former England captain Rooney has urged Southgate not to ditch his current tactics.
“I think that’s where England have got a lot better, playing out from the back and having more possession of the ball than we have had in recent times,” the 33-year-old told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme ahead of their 6-5 penalty shootout victory against Switzerland in the Nations League third-place play-off on Sunday.
“I’d encourage them to keep playing.
“Mistakes were made and we lost the game but I’m sure those mistakes won’t happen again. And if they do and that’s the way the manager wants to play then I’m sure the manager will take responsibility and encourage them to keep doing it.
“You can’t have a manager saying we want to play out from the back but then you make a mistake and he slaughters you for it. Players can’t go 90 minutes, week in, week out, without making mistakes.
“If I was in Gareth’s position, I would keep encouraging them to keep doing what they are doing and keep progressing because if you throw the blueprint out of the window now then you’re almost starting from scratch again.”
The 3-1 loss to Ronald Koeman’s side in Guimaraes pitted England against Switzerland.
Southgate has guided the team to the last four in successive tournaments following last summer’s memorable run to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia.
Former Manchester United and Everton player Rooney, who scored a record 53 goals in 120 appearances for his country, thinks England are on course to be one of the favourites to win Euro 2020.
“With England the future is bright,” continued Rooney, who currently plays for MLS club DC United.
“I said after Euro 2016, we’ve got some fantastic quality and I didn’t expect them to get to the semi-final in the next World Cup but that will certainly give them a boost going into the next tournament.
“I think keep progressing the way they are then they’ll be one of the favourites for the next tournament.
“I think over the last 12 months, they’ve made huge strides in terms of getting to the semi-final, and obviously everyone was disappointed not to go through but the team has got a lot of young players in it.
“I think the defeat against Holland will help them in the long run.”
The Azzurri moved three points clear at the top of Group J after leaving the hosts reeling with three goals in the space of 10 minutes.
Nicolo Barella, Lorenzo Insigne and Leonardo Bonucci were all on target as Italy raced into a three-goal lead after just over half an hour.
But they should have added to their tally, with Insigne and Federico Chiesa guilty of missing chances after the break.
“We were good to address the game in the way we wanted from the start,” Mancini is quoted as saying by UEFA.
“We were good at defending high, but we were less good in the second half when we should have added the fourth.”
Nevertheless, Insigne is excited to be part of the current Italian side.
He said: “The coach is creating a great group. We need it if we want to go far.
“We all love to play for this national team and I think it’s visible on the pitch.
“There are several youngsters and some veteran players with experience. It’s really the perfect mix.”
Fellow striker Andrea Belotti, who set up the first goal for Barella, added: “I am happy with my performance. It is difficult to find the right words because for me playing in the national team is always a dream.
“Mancini was a bit angry because in the second half we did not press as we did in the first and we saw the difference.
“We always have to improve. When you lower the pace, football is strange; even today we risked conceding. The important thing is the victory, but we have to work to limit our mistakes.”
Defeat saw Greece slip behind Finland, who now occupy second spot in the group.
Provided by Press Association Sports