Jordan Henderson said England would not have made the World Cup quarter-finals without the goals of Harry Kane and said the striker would come back stronger after he missed a penalty in the loss to France on Saturday.
Kane scored England’s first goal with 54th minute penalty but blasted the ball over the bar when presented with a second chance to put his side on level terms with a spot kick six minutes from the final whistle.
“We know how many penalties Harry has scored for us,” the England midfielder said after the 2-1 loss at Al Bayt Stadium.
“He scored the first one and how many goals he has scored to get us here…. he’ll be stronger for it in the long run I’m sure. He’s a world-class striker and our captain and we wouldn’t have even been here without him.”
The first penalty was Kane’s 53rd goal for his country, drawing him level with Wayne Rooney as England’s all time top scorer in international football.
Kane was top scorer in Russia four years ago with six goals as England reached the last four but the 29-year-old managed only two in Qatar.
England manager Gareth Southgate also backed his captain.
“For me, we win and lose as a team and we’ve let a couple of goals in and missed a few chances,” he said.
“Harry has been incredible for us, so reliable in those sorts of situations. We wouldn’t be here, but for the number of goals he scored for us.”
England had been confident of a good showing in Qatar after reaching the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 and the final of the European Championship last year.
“It feels like a missed chance because I felt the performances were really good and the focus and the hunger was good every single day,” Henderson added.
“You’ve got to give credit to France, they’re a good team. But I think I felt it was there for us to win tonight. “
England were chasing the game from the 17th minute when Aurelien Tchouameni put the reigning champions in front with a rasping long-range strike.
“It was disappointing to go 1-0 down but I thought we showed character and the mentality to keep going in the second half and find the equaliser,” Henderson said.
“We gave it everything and it wasn’t our night.”
Southgate said he did not think England could have done any more and had given the world champions a great game.
“I think it was just the key moments, you’re playing in a high level game where there aren’t going to be many chances created and within most of the big moments we were in the right place,” he said.
“We had more shots on goal and yeah the goalkeeper’s made a couple of really good saves for us. But it’s a game of fine margins.”