England coach Gareth Southgate defended his decision to let eight players rest while his team lost 1-0 to Belgium in the World Cup on Thursday.
An impressive effort by Adnan Januzaj wrapped the game early in the second half, with both teams making a series of changes from their previous games.
Speaking after the game, Southgate told reporters (for The Guardian) that he was looking at the "bigger picture". with the biggest game of the decade & # 39; of England against Colombia on Tuesday.
"This was a game we wanted to win, but the knockout is the biggest game for a decade for us and we had to make sure our key players were preserved," Southgate said.
"You have to look at the bigger picture sometimes and make decisions that, in some places, could be criticized, but everyone understands, in the dressing room and in the group, what we are trying to do."
all respect, in euros I think we have only advanced a few minutes in any of the games. Here we have played extremely well. We played well in the previous games and in the tournament, and I do not think we played badly tonight.
"We do not like to lose and we do not want to lose matches, but the main goal of the night we have, and if we had put Harry in for 10 minutes and someone had scratched his ankle, that would have been ridiculous. direct is the most important. "
Although he admitted that he and his team have a responsibility to produce good football and positive results, Southgate remained firm in his decision, making him "completely comfortable".
"Of course we have a responsibility with those who support, and the support at the stadium was absolutely outstanding tonight, the support and encouragement of the home have been brilliant, but when you are a leader and a manager, you must take the right decisions for your group to achieve the main objective.
"Sometimes those decisions will be criticized. I understand that. But only one person makes that decision. with all the complete data and the management of a tournament in mind: physically, medically and tactically for the benefit of the group. I am completely comfortable with the decision. Sometimes you have to make decisions to have a broader vision "