Published 13 June 2021 4 min read
England Men's Senior TEAM

England 1-0 Croatia

Written by:

Paul Eddison

Raheem Sterling scores second-half winner to get Three Lions off to a winning start in EURO 2020

13 Jun 2021 3:28

England 1-0 Croatia


Watch the highlights as the Three Lions kick-off EURO 2020 with a win

Raheem Sterling’s first major tournament goal fired England to a 1-0 victory over Croatia at Wembley in their UEFA EURO 2020 opener. 

The Manchester City winger put England in front just before the hour mark after fine work from Kalvin Phillips as they won their opening game in a European Championships for the first time to go top of Group D. 

England enjoyed the better of the opening passages but had to wait until the second half to break the deadlock against the side who knocked them out of the 2018 World Cup at the semi-final stage. 

Gareth Southgate had made the decision to play Kieran Trippier at left-back, while Declan Rice and Phillips set up as a midfield two to protect the England defence.  Sterling was selected on the left and he threatened early and often for England, before breaking his major tournament duck in the second half. 

England started very strongly, with Phil Foden hitting the inside of the post after just five minutes after cutting inside from the right. 

The hosts were piling on the pressure as their high press starved Croatia and, particularly skipper Luka Modric, of time on the ball. That allowed England to dominate possession and territory, with the first ten minutes proving particularly fruitful. 

Sterling and Foden combined on the counter, with the younger Manchester City man opening up his body and curling the ball with his left foot. It took a slight deflection of Josko Gvardiol, and that was enough to push it onto the inside of the post and away with Dominik Livakovic beaten. 

Shortly after, it was Sterling and Mason Mount who produced some nice interplay to put Sterling into space in the box, Duje Caleta-Car getting back this time but conceding the corner. 

From that set-piece, Phillips reacted quickly when a ball came out to the edge of the box and Livakovic had to get down sharply to parry away his fizzing shot. 

Croatia had found themselves on the back foot, but after struggling to find their feet in the first 20 minutes, they were able to push forwards thereafter as the pace of the game dropped in the heat. 

Raheem celebrates his winning goal on his home turf of Wembley
Raheem celebrates his winning goal on his home turf of Wembley

Right-back Sime Vrsaljko was proving dangerous, with Tyrone Mings having to be alert to head clear a cross from the Atletico Madrid man. 

Croatia continued to channel their attacks down the right, while Modric’s influence grew as the game went on. 

And yet it was England who had the last chance of the half. It came after Caleta-Car had handled the ball as Sterling was fastest to a long ball through. He was yellow-carded and Trippier attempted to the repeat the trick of the World Cup semi-final three years ago, but his free-kick from the edge of the box could not quite clear the head of Ivan Perisic in the wall. 

Croatia looked comfortable after the break, with Modric trying his luck from distance but Jordan Pickford dealt with it comfortably. 

And just before the hour England finally found a way through the Croatia defence. Sterling had just been denied on a through-ball but second time around he made no mistake. Kyle Walker slid the ball through to Phillips who cut inside one man and then put the through-ball to Sterling who fired past Livakovic with a first-time strike on his right. 

Croatia almost hit straight back when the ball fell to Ante Rebic in the box but he dragged his effort well wide. Back up the other end Mount’s free-kick from the right flew just over the bar as England pressed for a second. 

Croatia pushed forward in search of an equaliser but England held firm to set them up perfectly for their second match against Scotland on Friday. 

England (4-2-3-1): 1 Jordan Pickford (Everton); 2 Kyle Walker (Manchester City), 5 John Stones (Manchester City), 15 Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), 12 Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid); 14 Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), 4 Declan Rice (West Ham United); 20 Phil Foden (Manchester City), 19 Mason Mount (Chelsea), 10 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City); 9 Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur).

Substitutes: 11 Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) for Foden 70’, 26 Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) for Kane 82’, 18 Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) for Sterling 90+2’ 

Substitutes not used: 13 Dean Henderson (Manchester United), 23 Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion), 3 Luke Shaw (Manchester United), 7 Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), 8 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), 16 Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers), 22 Ben White (Brighton & Hove Albion), 24 Reece James (Chelsea), 25 Bukayo Saka (Arsenal). 

Goals: Sterling 57’

Croatia (4-3-3): 1 Dominik Livakovic; 2 Sime Vrsaljko, 5 Duje Caleta-Car, 21 Domagoj Vida, 25 Josko Gvardiol; 10 Luka Modric, 11 Marcelo Brozovic, 8 Mateo Kovacic; 9 Andrej Kramaric, 17 Ante Rebic, 4 Ivan Perisic.

Substitutes: 13 Nikola Vlasic for Brozovic 70’, 7 Josip Brekalo for Kramaric 70’, 20 Bruno Petkovic for Rebic 78’, 15 Mario Pasalic for Kovacic 85’ 

Substitutes not used: 12 Lovre Kalinic, 23 Simon Sluga, 14 Ante Budimir, 16 Mile Skoric, 19 Milan Badelj, 22 Josip Juranovic, 24 Domagoj Bradaric, 26 Luka Ivanusec. 

13 Jun 2021 3:28

England 1-0 Croatia


Watch the highlights as the Three Lions kick-off EURO 2020 with a win