• Thomas Barnes

England off to winning start at Euro 2020



Southgate’s men welcomed World Cup Finalists Croatia to Wembley on Sunday Afternoon, in a bid to kickstart their Euro 2020 campaign in a positive fashion.

A second half strike from Raheem Sterling was enough for England to overcome Luka Modric et al, in scorching conditions in the capital.

Prior to kick off, Raheem Sterling’s selection was the focal point of all discussions on whether Southgate’s selection was the right one. Despite having a season that potentially didn’t reach to his high standards, it is unquestionable how important Sterling’s presence is in an England Shirt. His winner against Croatia was his 13th England goal in his last 17 appearances.

How England got off to a winning start…

England started the game very brightly, creating a number of chances, converting early boo’s [for the continuation of taking the knee] into loud cheers as the 22,000 in attendance were satisfied with the start England made.

The first chance fell to young Phil Foden who received the ball on the right wing following a piercing run from Raheem Sterling. A smart touch inside created an angle for the youngster to fire into the far corner, but with the keeper beaten, the post stood in the way of Foden and England’s first goal of Euro 2020.

England continued to suffocate Croatia in their own half, Kalvin Philips picked out Sterling in the Croatia box, the Manchester City winger looked a cert to slot past Livakovic but Caleta-Car managed to put in a vital last ditch tackle to keep the score level.

The following corner forced the first save out of the Croatia keeper with Philips pouncing on a headed clearance and volleying from the edge of the box, Livakovic was comfortably able to parry the ball away from danger.

The first and only chance Croatia had in the first half came on the half hour mark with Vrsaljko picking out Perišić on the edge of the box, but unlike Philips, the Inter Milan forward was unable to keep his volley on target.

England would’ve probably been frustrated not to have broken the deadlock with their early onslaught of pressure on Croatia. It was evident they tried to come out for the second half with the same intensity. But this time, Southgate’s men were rewarded.

Man of the Match Kalvin Philips dodged a couple of Croatia tackles 10 minutes into the second half before sliding a ball into the path of an onrushing Raheem Sterling who calmly slotted past Livakovic to light up Wembley Stadium.

England weren’t resting on their laurels and instantly went seeking for a second. Mason Mount picked the ball up on the left hand side of the box and immediately put a delightful ball across the mouth of the goal into the path of Harry Kane. It seemed that the England Captain had a simple task of tapping home from a yard out but an incredible last ditch intervention from a Croatia defender to keep them in the game.

A rare chance for Croatia came with 25 minutes to go as Rebic was picked out on the penalty spot but horribly dragged his effort well wide of the target. Croatia’s best chance.

Mason Mount could only find the roof of the net with a looping free kick before both Brozovic and Sterling fired way off target in the closing stages of the game.

The introduction of Jude Bellingham saw the youngster become the youngest player to play in the European Championships. The Birmingham City Graduate certainly didn’t look out of place when he came on either. On the ball and off it.

Ratings

England

Pickford (6), Walker (5), Trippier (6), Stones (6), Mings (7), Philips (9), Rice (7), Mount (7), Foden (7), Sterling (8), Kane (6)

Subs: Rashford (6), Bellingham (7), Calvert-Lewin (N/A)

Croatia

Livakovic (6), Vrsaljko (6), Vida (5), Caleta Car (6), Gvardiol(5), Brozovic (5), Modric (6), Kovacic (6), Rebic (5), Kramaric (5), Perišić (5)

Subs: Vlasic (5), Brekalo (6), Pasalic (N/A), Petkovic (N/A)

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