Euro 2020 campaign of England started with a victory when Raheem Sterling’s goal defended Croatia’s win over Wembley.
Southgate resisted the temptation to play Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish. And he was rewarded with a thrilling Sterling game as England secured the victory they deserved.
The three Lions almost took the lead early when Phil Foden hit the post. But there were early signs of frustration for fans. And players such as Sterling made a final impact on the tournament’s first goal.
A frustrated Croatian team has heavily tested goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. He has never repeated their victory over England in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow.
They left England with three points to take in the second Group D match against Scotland at Wembley.
Phillips sets out the validity of the statement.
Phillips of Leeds United has been nicknamed ‘The Yorkshire Pirlo’ by his worshipers at Elland Road. This was all his performance and is one of the highest levels.
Since the first whistle, the 25-year-old has been the calmest, most talented. And the most certified player in England in times of domination. And defeat and experience frustrating moments.
He checked in with Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic early. But his most important contribution came with a run. And a pass that gave Sterling a fair chance to break against Croatia.
Phillips’ first game in a major tournament was the backbone of Southgate’s program alongside Declan Rice.
And a heavy burden as experienced Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson could be considered perfectly fit.
Phillips was often regarded as a midfielder who was in charge in his early days. But under the tutelage of manager Marco Bielsa in Leeds. And thanks to his efforts, he now has a lot more.
It was a performance statement from Phillips that confirmed his place when he faces Scotland next Friday.
Sterling answers the doubters.
Some genuine questions were asked about Sterling’s place in England’s team for this opening game. After a period of indifferent form.
When Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola felt able to do without him, the city won a third Premier League title in four years.
However, Southgate has never wavered for a second. He believes that Sterling is integral to his England plans. So it was not a surprise to anyone when he was selected.
And he proceeded to show exactly why his country’s management team so highly regards him.
He was a constant threat when England attacked a potent trio with Foden and Mason Mount operating behind a very subdued Harry Kane.
Sterling had Croatia’s defenders on the back foot. And he was fully merited when he stole into space in the penalty area. To convert a perfect pass from Phillips to goal.
He could have added a second late on, but his finish was wayward. He still deserved the huge ovation he received when he was a substitute for Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the closing moments.
England subdues disappointing Croatia.
Croatia arrived at Wembley with confidence bolstered. By their record of important wins over England in the past. Most notably, that was the previous World Cup semi-final triumph in 2018.
Here, they looked like a shadow of the impressively gifted side that performed so brilliantly in the game in Russia.
And will be bitterly disappointed that they failed to give England keeper Pickford any serious moments of anxiety.
They had survived a rocky opening period. To restore a measure of order for the last 20 minutes of the first half.
But even then, their performance was more about possession and tempo than a threat.
The visitors failed to build on that improved conclusion to the first period after the break. They were allowing England to regain the initiative.
And once Sterling scored, this game never had any sense of a comeback from Zlatko Dalic’s side.
Croatia still has the great midfield manipulator Luka Modric. But real quality is in shorter supply around him than it was. And they will have to improve.
Southgate says the victory of England relieve tensions.
England coach Gareth Southgate says his first European Championship match against Croatia “relieves tensions” on his team.
It is the first time England has won their opening match of the tournament.
Raheem Sterling scored his only goal in front of 22,500 fans at Wembley. After being suspended by Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips.
“You know if you don’t win the first game, the pressure is mounting,” Southgate said.
“We still have two tough games for the team. And we have made a good step forward today. But there are some important steps we need to take to get ready.
“I’m very happy with the performance. Of course, winning is important. It was a great time, a hot day, and the players settled down very quickly.
“They used the ball well and reduced Croatia to a few clear chances throughout the game.”
England is playing all three of their group games at Wembley. And the atmosphere is fully electric as fans at the full-quarter stadium sang the Three Lions sang “it’s coming home.”
There was also a lot of noise when Southgate thanked them for their support.
“Good day to the English community,” he said. “We have been waiting for a long time for the beer gardens to open.
“I’m sure they throw it all over and drink it, which is great!”
England, in Group D, will face Scotland next Friday, 18 June. Before meeting the Czech Republic on Tuesday 22 June.