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Defiant England boss Gareth Southgate vows to remain steadfast in face of intense personal criticism

Gareth Southgate was in a defiant mood after the Euro 2024 quarter-final penalty shoot-out win over Switzerland with the England boss saying he will keep "grinding away" regardless of the intense criticism of his management.

Among the favourites to go all the way in Germany, the Euro 2020 runners-up are now just one victory away from becoming the first English men's team to reach a major final on foreign soil.

Saturday's victory against Switzerland secured a third semi-final in four tournaments under Southgate, who has dealt with intense scrutiny and criticism this summer.

Supporters made their anger known after draws against Denmark and Slovenia that saw England top Group C, with beer cups even thrown at the manager after the latter stalemate.

Southgate kept his cool in such dark moments, helping to make Saturday's 5-3 penalty shoot-out triumph after a tough 1-1 extra-time draw with the Swiss all the sweeter in Dusseldorf.

"Look, I took this job to try to improve English football, to try to give us nights like this," he told BBC Radio 5 Live when asked about his celebrations on the pitch after his 100th match in charge.

"I can't deny then when things get as personal as it has that does hurt. I don't think it's normal to have beer thrown at you.

"But we're in a third semi-final in four tournaments, and I think we continue to give people fantastic memories. So, we'll keep grinding, we'll keep fighting, and we'll keep enjoying this journey."

England now take on the Netherlands in Wednesday's Signal Iduna Park semi-final looking to make back-to-back European Championship finals and ultimately go one better than three years ago.

An improved performance is needed if they are to make next Sunday's Berlin showpiece, but Southgate dismissed those criticising his team's displays.

Put to him that England, like fellow semi-finalists France, have not been "easy on the eye", he retorted: "Well, I'm sorry for that, but our intention is always to play well with the ball.

"In football you have an opponent that's trying to stop you, and these are not normal football matches.

"These are national events with huge pressure, with really young men in the middle of it. Our team has been under enormous pressure from the start and they're doing so well. So well.

"I thought they showed moments. I think Phil (Foden) had one of his best games for us, looked really free.

"We're not able to score a load of goals at the moment, but, again, we've played three teams that play back five, very well organised defences.

"Pitches are a little bit bobbly, so you sometimes need the extra touch, and as you have the extra touch the space is gone.

"None of it is easy. None of this stuff is easy. But we're in a third semi-final in four tournaments, and for the staff and players that have been involved in all of that, that's a pretty good achievement. But it's not where we want it to end."

Spain or France will provide stern opposition if England can overcome the Netherlands, who are the highest-ranked side they have faced at Euro 2024.

Talk of easy runs at this edition and the last one three years ago rankles with Southgate, who hit back at a reporter who began listing England's so-called lesser Euros opponents.

He even interjected when the journalist dismissed beating a "poor" Germany in the Euro 2020 last 16, saying : "A poor German team? It had about eight Champions League winners in, yeah?"

Once the reporter stood his ground and ended his lengthy question, Southgate said: "Are you sure you're not English? You're German?

"Look, the teams we played are because we won our group. If you go back through history, England had different routes to the final because they didn't win their group.

"Of course, you'd rather not have to jump the Grand National to win the tournament.

"Most teams when you have back-to-back games, two, three, four games against big nations, the margins are so fine and in the end those games end up really quite even.

"You win one, you lose one, you draw one, so it's very, very tough to go through those processes.

"I'm not really sure what to say. It's the madness of this job, but we've had an enjoyable night, and I'm going to try and keep it enjoyable if that's OK."

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