- England opened the Euro 2020 competition with a 1-0 win over Croatia at Wembley Stadium.
- Raheem Sterling scored the only goal of the game in the 57th minute.
- Next up for England is a match against Scotland on Friday night.
There was a lot of pressure heading into the opening round of the Euro 2020 competition. Some of it was the weight of lofty expectations from their boosters. Some of it was their historical struggles in European Championships. Sunday’s 1-0 win over Croatia at Wembley Stadium was England’s first ever win in the opening match of the European Championships after 9 previous tries (5 draws, 4 losses).
Despite the pressure, England came out and performed beating Croatia 1-0 in a game that was scoreless at the half despite the home team controlling the attack. The winning marker came in the 57th minute from Raheem Sterling with an assist from Kalvin Phillips. The expanded format of the 2020 Euro means that England’s win just about guarantees that they’ll go through to the knockout stage. Manager Gareth Southgate says the win helps take a lot of pressure off the team:
“It takes some of the tension out of the preparation for the next game. But we have still got to get points to qualify. It’s lovely to have given our fans and our country a really enjoyable afternoon. The players dealt with the big occasion really well.”
“I thought from the first minute to the last it was a really good performance. We knew we had to get pressure on their midfield, that was key.”
Southgate’s charges also dealt with the heat ‘really well’. The match was contested on the hottest day of the year in London with temperatures reaching 29C (84F) under sunny skies. Southgate suggested that the rare moments when England didn’t look like the better team was a function of the heat:
“They played really well, they settled early in the game. There were moments when the tempo dropped just because of the heat, but for the majority of the game, we were in control, we didn’t give them many opportunities and we looked dangerous.”
“I thought they [the back four] coped very well. With Croatia, I think you have to put pressure on their midfield players especially and we managed to do that. That limits some of the supply, but the defenders dealt with the longer balls well, they read the game well, they were composed in their build-up.”
England defender Tyrone Mings said that it was the ‘hottest game he’d ever played in’:
“It’s a dream come true to play in a major tournament for England and I loved every second of it.”
“It’s probably the hottest game I’ve played in, but the team showed a lot of grit, determination and quality at times as well. We’re over the moon with the start.”
England opened the Euro 2020 as a -260 favorite to advance out of Group D. Next up, they’ll face Scotland back at Wembley on Friday. For US fans, the match begins at 12 Noon Pacific/3 PM Eastern with coverage on ESPN.