GARETH SOUTHGATE accepted his England side had “had an off day” as they laboured to a 1-1 draw with Hungary at Wembley last night.

Southgate’s players turned in their worst display of World Cup qualifying, with the final whistle being greeted by a smattering of boos from the home support.

John Stones’ first-half strike cancelled out a penalty from Roland Sallai, which was awarded after Luke Shaw was punished for catching Loic Nego with a high boot, but while England enjoyed plenty of possession in the second half, they did not look like claiming a winner.

With Poland claiming a 1-0 win in Albania, the result means England are three points clear at the top of Group I with two more games to play. They will be guaranteed a place at next year’s World Cup in Qatar if they take four points from next month’s concluding double-header – a home game with Albania and an away match in San Marino – and Southgate will be demanding a marked improvement from last night’s display.

“It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly,” said the England boss. “I think we had one or two tactical problems we managed to resolve as the game progressed, but some of our quality was just really poor.

“We gave unusual passes away, we got caught in possession several times, we overran the ball quite a few times and we forced things a bit too often. We started the game that way, and I thought that bred a bit of anxiety in our play, which is quite unusual.

“We still had over 60 per cent of possession, so we were still generally controlling the game, but we didn’t really get pressure on to them as much as we did in Budapest (when England won 4-0). We weren’t in the right position for some of their counter-attacks, and again, I thought that bred a bit of anxiety.”

There were some ugly scenes at the start of last night’s game, with a large group of Hungarian supporters fighting with police and stewards in the Wembley stands.

The Metropolitan Police subsequently released a statement revealing that the trouble was sparked by one of their officers attempting to arrest a Hungarian supporter who is alleged to have racially abused a steward, a disturbing throwback to last month’s game in Budapest which was blighted by widespread racist chanting.

Southgate spoke passionately in the wake of last month’s monkey chanting in the Puscas Arena, but was reluctant to discuss last night’s scenes until he was aware of the full facts.

“It’s difficult for me to comment with any authority because I’m only just hearing the detail,” he said.