Gareth Southgate believes England's 2-1 victory over Croatia demonstrated how his side have clearly improved since the World Cup.

The victory means that England will be competing in the inaugural Nations League finals next summer after finishing ahead of both Croatia and Spain in Group A4.


Despite the fact that there was a lot riding on the outcome of the match, Southgate insisted that the Three Lions were focused on coming away with nothing less than a win.

"We didn't discuss relegation, we just saw this as an opportunity. We saw it as a quarter final," the England boss told Sky Sports, as per Goal.

"It's great as we had to live with the pressure. We've come out of an incredibly tough group, in terms of form and world rankings, the toughest.


"We haven't sat back after the summer and preened ourselves. We've progressed. People can see the style and start to believe in what we're doing.

England were the better side for large portions of the match and, despite having to rely on two late goals from Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane, Southgate praised his side for raising their game when it counted.

"I felt we were more in control in the first half than we were in the semi final [at the World Cup]. We were much more controlled in possession," he added.


"It felt as if we could open them up and make good chances. The players are starting to believe in the system. We have some players so comfortable building from the back.

"The depth in the squad since the summer has grown with the young players. Whoever comes in during this competition have all delivered.


"We felt the balance in the midfield was important. We knew if we had to accelerate, we had game-changers on the bench. In the last five minutes we were mature enough to see things through."