Traditionally slow starters in the Euros, a talented and young England team 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.
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 hardly ever troubled the English defense as both sides went into the break with the score at 0-0.
Phillips was instrumental as England took the lead 12 minute into the second half, beautifully making room for a through ball from the right for Raheem 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, which had its share of minor hesitations during the game. Ante Rebic wasted Croatia’s best chance, skewing his shot wide from 12 yards out.
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.
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