By 90Min
March 24, 2018

England have come in for some criticism for not being a very exciting team to watch under Gareth Southgate, but their new-found defensive solidity should be cause for optimism ahead of this summer's World Cup.

The Three Lions scored just 18 goals in 10 games during their qualifying campaign for Russia 2018 and Jesse Lingard's winner against the Netherlands on Friday was their first goal in three friendly matches since then.

But on the flip side, England haven't lost a match since Iceland eliminated them from Euro 2016, and that owes a lot to a defensive unit which has now gone for nearly six whole matches without conceding a goal.

The last player to score against Southgate's team was Slovakia's Stanislav Lobotka, who netted a third minute opener in a game at Wembley last September which England went on to win 2-1.

After that, England ended their qualifying campaign with 1-0 wins over Slovenia and Lithuania, before three consecutive clean sheets in high profile friendlies. They drew 0-0 with Germany and Brazil in November before Friday's win in Amsterdam.

It's particularly surprising given that Southgate still has several defensive selection decisions to make before the summer, with the goalkeeper position under particular scrutiny.

Everton's Jordan Pickford played the full 90 minutes against the Netherlands, with Joe Hart, Jack Butland and Nick Pope also in the squad.

England will hope to keep the streak going when they take on Italy on Tuesday. Italy lost 2-0 to Argentina at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Friday.

Southgate is expected to name his World Cup squad in early May, with England opening their campaign against Tunisia on 18 June. They also face Panama and Belgium in Group G.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)