Sterling Gives England Perfect Start at Euros With Win vs Croatia
Raheem Sterling scored the winner after some brilliant playmaking Kalvin Phillips.
Traditionally slow starters at the Euros, a talented and young England made a dominant start to their 2020 European Championship campaign with a 1-0 win against Croatia in Group D at the Wembley Stadium in London. This is the first time in history that England have won their opening match of the tournament.
Raheem Sterling, who has not been in the best of form in recent weeks, scored the winner after some brilliant playmaking Kalvin Phillips.
England manager Gareth Southgate surprised a few with his selection, leaving the talented Jadon Sancho out of the squad and Jack Grealish on the bench for their opening game of the tournament. England also started without Harry Maguire, around who’s fitness and availability there is has been speculation.
A young and attacking looking English side were out of the blocks faster than their more experienced opponents and attacked in waves. England almost took the lead on the 6th minute when the dynamic Phil Foden’s left footed drive had the keeper Dominik Livakovic well beaten, only for the woodwork to get in the way.
Southgate’s side was relentless in attack and gave Croatia yet another scare soon when Kalvin Phillips arrowed it through the crowd but could not place it beyond the keeper. As the first half progressed, England kept knocking on the door, playing some slick football but were unable to find a way through the gritty Croatian side.
The 2018 World Cup’s losing finalists though hardly ever troubled the English defense as both sides went into the break with the score at 0-0.
Phillips, who was among the best performers for the hosts on the Sunday afternoon, was instrumental in giving England the lead 12 minutes into the second half, as he beautifully made room for a through ball from the right for Sterling, who raced into the pocket of space in the heart of Croatia’s defense and turned it in past the keeper with a first-time finish.
It was a welcome breakthrough with the game starting to get tensed and England almost doubled their lead in quick time when Harry Kane seemed set to finish off Mason Mount’s cross at the far post, only for Josko Gvardiol to clear away.
Croatia with Modric pulling the strings from the engine room found it tough to break down the English defense. Ante Rebic wasted Croatia’s best chance, skewing his shot wide from 12 yards out, as they never looked like repeating the heroics from the World Cup in Russia.
For England, much was expected from the likes of Mason Mount, Foden and Phillips, and they were among the stars for the hosts at Wembley as the hosts picked up three points in rather comfortable fashion.
The fans at the stadium booed as England players took a knee before kickoff, despite multiple pleas from the FA and Southgate to respect players, although they were drowned out by applause from other supporters.
England's next take on arch-rivals Scotland on 18 June at Wembley, while Croatia will face Czech Republic at Hampden Park.
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