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Plastic beer glasses thrown at Gareth Southgate after dismal draw with Slovenia

Fans swearing at Gareth Southgate
Southgate, in the white shirt, received abuse from some of England's travelling support - Sportimage/David Klein

Gareth Southgate had plastic beer cups thrown at him by angry England fans, as his team limped into the last 16 of the European Championship as Group C winners.

Another uninspiring display in a goalless draw against Slovenia prompted supporters in Cologne to make their displeasure clear by booing the team off and launching plastic beer cups in the direction of Southgate, when he went over to applaud them at full-time.

Some fans clapped Southgate as he faced up to them, but others could be clearly seen giving him a piece of their minds. Two of the three beer cups that were thrown towards the England manager landed near his feet, with the other falling well short.

Asked whether he was aware of the cups being thrown at him and for his reaction to it, Southgate said: “Yeah, I understand it. I’m not going to back away from it.

“The most important thing is we stay with the team. I understand the narrative towards me. That’s better for the team than it being towards them, but it is creating an unusual environment to operate in. I’ve not seen any other team qualify and receive similar. I’m not going to back away from it.

“Firstly, the fans were exceptional in the second half with the team. That makes such a difference to them. I’m very very proud of the players. They kept composure in a game where they’ve come into it on the back of a really challenging environment.

“It’s taken me back to the days when I was playing with England. They’ve dealt with it really well. Composure with the ball, waiting for the opportunity. We dominated the second half.

“Of course, we would have loved to have sent the fans home happy, but we were definitely an improvement on the last game. It was important to win the group because you control your own destiny.”

Southgate: ‘We’ve made England fun again’

Southgate insisted that the reaction of the supporters would not change his approach or appetite to make England successful in Germany, where they could face the Netherlands in the last 16.

He said: “I’m in a really good place. When you have moments like at the end of the game, I’m asking the players to be fearless, so I’m not going to back down from going to thank our fans at the end of the game.

“However they feel towards me, I get it, I’ve been around England for 20 years, I’ve seen it. My job is to guide the team through this and get the very best out of the team and keep this perspective for them. I’m very, very happy with how they’ve handled the last few days in particular.”

Asked for the difference between this and the previous tournaments England had played in under him, Southgate replied: “Probably, expectation. We’ve made England fun again and it’s been very, very enjoyable for the players. We’ve got to be careful that it stays that way.”

England will play their last-16 clash on Sunday in Gelsenkirchen and could face the Netherlands, who finished third in Group D. Southgate’s team could also draw whoever finishes third in Group E, which could be Romania, Belgium, Slovakia or Ukraine.

Following turgid performances in the narrow win against Serbia and the draw with Denmark, England badly needed to give their fans something to cheer against Slovenia, who are behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq in the world rankings.

But England were poor in the first half and improved only after the break, when Southgate sent on Kobbie Mainoo and Cole Palmer.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford said: “No game is easy and we are going to come under criticism - we have to deal with that.”