KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- The second round of matches at a tournament is always about playing for position: making amends or building on the initial result and keeping on eye on whatever may be needed to progress.

Hosts Germany had demonstrated precisely how to do it in Group A by winning both their ties to qualify for the knockout stage but England, 24 hours later, could not match them as they fell over their feet in a 1-1 draw against Denmark in Frankfurt. All the Group C options remain open.

England were awful. This was probably their worst tournament performance since the infamous beating by Iceland at Euro 2016.

The creeping negativity of England’s opening 1-0 win over Serbia was repeated, leaving Denmark to reflect that they could have won had they been a little braver. England’s collective failing was underscored by the sight of their much-vaunted attacking trio of Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden all substituted midway through the second half.

They started in ideal fashion, overcoming a lively Denmark start to take control by the 18th minute after a Kyle Walker cross caught the Danish defence at sixes and sevens. Captain Kane shot England ahead with his 64th goal for his country but instead of encouraging more goals it was almost a signal for England’s game to fall apart in the most dramatic way.

Manager Gareth Southgate must have been as baffled as England’s fans by his players’ poor passing and lazy covering. Denmark duly deserved their equaliser with a 30-metre rocket of a shot from Morten Hjulmand in the 34th minute. The Sporting midfielder thrashed a magnificent drive wide of the diving Jordan Pickford’s right hand.

Pickford did save, high up, from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg just before halftime but England’s frustrations continued after the break. Foden hit the post in the 56th minute at one end but Pickford had to make a safe save from Mikkel Damsgaard at the other.

By now Southgate was ringing the changes. The unimpressive Trent Alexander-Arnold gave way to Conor Gallager and a subsequent triple substitution brought Ollie Watkins, Eberechi Eze and into the game.

Watkins made an instant impression, dashing in on the right behind the Danish defence and forcing Schmeichel to a brave save but, if it had proved the winner, England would not have deserved it.

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