England 1-0 Croatia: Sterling earns Southgate’s side victory in Euro 2020 group stages

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England began their Euro 2020 campaign with a deserved 1-0 victory over Croatia at Wembley on Sunday.

In a re-run of the 2018 World Cup semi-final, the two sides went head-to-head on a blazing hot afternoon in London.

Raheem Sterling scored the only goal of the game early in the second half to get Gareth Southgate’s side off to the perfect start to the Euro 2020 group stages.

England started strongly and almost took the lead in the fifth minute when Phil Foden, sporting his new bleach-blonde haircut, hit the post with a left-footed strike.

The impressive Kalvin Phillips, another member of England’s squad competing at his first major international tournament, then tested Dominik Livakovic with a volley from the edge of the box.

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After a shaky start, Croatia eventually settled and slowed the pace of the game down.

Ivan Perisic blazed Croatia’s only half-chance of the opening 45 minutes over the crossbar, while Kieran Trippier had an opportunity to replicate his 2018 heroics with a free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

However, the full-back’s effort on this occasion found the wall rather than the back of the net.

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Sterling scores for England vs Croatia

Following a cagey first 10 minutes after the restart, England took the lead when Sterling netted his first goal at a major tournament.

Phillips’ inch-perfect pass found the Manchester City forward, who converted past Livakovic to put the Three Lions 1-0 up.

Watch Sterling's goal here...

England had chances to double their lead

Harry Kane, the pre-tournament favourite to win the Euro 2020 Golden Boot, should have doubled England’s advantage minutes later when Mason Mount’s cross found him at the back post.

The centre-forward missed the target and collided with the post but was able to continue.

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With 25 minutes left on the clock and England in control, Mason Mount went close to making it 2-0 with a fine attempted free-kick which whistled narrowly over the bar.

Sterling then fired a shot over the bar as England continued to dominate during the closing stages.

England send a message to their Euro 2020 rivals

Although England were unable to score a second goal, this was still a hugely encouraging start to the tournament from Southgate's players, who will now go into the games against Scotland and the Czech Republic full of confidence.

Leeds United midfielder Phillips, in particular, performed very well in the biggest game of his career so far.

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Following their national team's convincing performance against the 2018 World Cup finalists, England fans will feel even more optimistic that football could, finally, be coming home this summer.

Get well soon Christian Eriksen (Football Terrace)

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