Published 22 June 2021 4 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Three Lions top EURO group

Written by:

Andy Baber

  • J. Bořil (61′)
FULL TIME
UEFA EURO 2020 Group D
Tuesday 22 June, 08:00 PM Wembley Stadium
0 1
HT: 0 - 1
  • R. Sterling (12′)
England head into last 16 of EURO 2020 as Raheem Sterling's first-half header seals win over Czechs at Wembley

Raheem Sterling’s second UEFA EURO 2020 goal ensured England progress to the knockout stages on top of Group D, after a 1-0 win over Czech Republic.

The Manchester City forward headed in a first-half cross from Jack Grealish, who was making his first tournament start, as the Three Lions head into the last 16 unbeaten.

Second-half substitute Jordan Henderson thought he had doubled his side’s lead late on, only to be denied by an assistant’s flag but it mattered not as England finished with another clean sheet.

The Three Lions will now wait to see who they face in the next round, with one of either World Cup champions France, holders Portugal or Germany their likely opponents at Wembley on Tuesday 29 June.

Finland’s defeat by Belgium in Group B 24 hours earlier meant Gareth Southgate’s side were already guaranteed to qualify for the last 16 whatever the outcome here.

The Czechs were also assured of a place in the knockout stages and with a superior goal difference to the Three Lions, only needed to avoid defeat to top the group.

But while there had been talk about the benefits of finishing second in the group prior to the contest, England’s desire to finish at the summit was clear from the first whistle.

22 Jun 2021 5:06

Highlights: Czech Republic 0-1 England


Watch the best of the action from Wembley as England seal top spot in EURO group

Southgate made four changes to the side that started the goalless draw with Scotland, with Grealish handed his first start of EURO 2020 after coming off the bench last time out.

There was also a first tournament start for Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka while Harry Maguire returned from injury to take his place in central defence and Kyle Walker returned at right-back.

And the Three Lions almost landed the opening blow inside two minutes when Sterling latched onto Luke Shaw’s pass before lifting the ball over Tomas Vaclik and against the post.

England continued to probe through Grealish while West Ham’s Vladimir Coufal provided evidence of his threat on six minutes with a driving run that ultimately came to nothing.

The breakthrough arrived on 12 minutes and saw both Grealish and Saka play an integral role, with the latter starting the move with a penetrating break from inside his own half.

Saka’s swinging cross into the box was unable to find a white shirt but after the ball was kept alive by Harry Kane, Grealish dribbled towards the byline before chipping it to the back post.

The cross was too high for Saka but Sterling was behind him waiting to pounce, heading home to give England a deserved lead as the 22,500 fans at Wembley roared their approval.

The Three Lions had won all eleven previous matches when Sterling had scored but the hosts were given a scare on 24 minutes when Tomas Soucek almost got on the end of Luka Masopust’s pass.

England came agonisingly close to doubling their lead a minute later, with Kane taking a pass from Maguire in his stride and taking aim for the right corner, only for Vaclik to deny him with a strong hand.

Czech Republic responded just before the half-hour mark when Tomas Holes tested Jordan Pickford from the edge of the box but the Everton shot-stopper was able to palm it away.

The Czechs continued to see more ball as the half progressed and Soucek thumped a shot just wide of the left post on 36 minutes after Jakub Jankto went close with a volley.

Kane went closest again to extending the lead on 43 minutes with a drilled left-foot shot which was fumbled by the keeper but the hosts had to settle for a 1-0 advantage at the interval.

Both sides made changes at the start of the second half, with Southgate giving Henderson a run out as the Liverpool captain took the place of Declan Rice in midfield.

And Henderson made an immediate impact with a perfectly weighted ball to Kane, who was unable to bring it down, before another clever pass proved too high for Grealish.

Three Lions skipper Harry Kane finds himself surrounded by Czech defenders
Three Lions skipper Harry Kane finds himself surrounded by Czech defenders

England came agonisingly close to doubling their lead a minute later, with Kane taking a pass from Maguire in his stride and taking aim for the right corner, only for Vaclik to deny him with a strong hand.

Czech Republic responded just before the half-hour mark when Tomas Holes tested Jordan Pickford from the edge of the box but the Everton shot-stopper was able to palm it away.

The Czechs continued to see more ball as the half progressed and Soucek thumped a shot just wide of the left post on 36 minutes after Jakub Jankto went close with a volley.

Kane went closest again to extending the lead on 43 minutes with a drilled left-foot shot which was fumbled by the keeper but the hosts had to settle for a 1-0 advantage at the interval.

Both sides made changes at the start of the second half, with Southgate giving Henderson a run out as the Liverpool captain took the place of Declan Rice in midfield.

And Henderson made an immediate impact with a perfectly weighted ball to Kane, who was unable to bring it down, before another clever pass proved too high for Grealish.

The Czechs remained threatening on the counter, however, and Saka did well to get back and intercept a cut back from Patrik Schick as he tried to find Jan Boril in the box.

More England changes saw Marcus Rashford, Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho take to the field as the Czech Republic attempted to up the intensity as they pursued an equalising goal.

But England’s defence showed no sign of being breached and it was actually the Three Lions who came closest to scoring again, with Henderson having a goal ruled out for offside.

It did not make a difference though as the Three Lions saw out the remaining minutes comfortably to top the group and book a date with the runner-up in Group F.

England (4-2-3-1): 1 Jordan Pickford (Everton); 2 Kyle Walker (Manchester City), 5 John Stones (Manchester City), 6 Harry Maguire (Manchester United), 3 Luke Shaw (Manchester United); 4 Declan Rice (West Ham United), 14 Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United); 25 Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), 7 Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), 10 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City); 9 Harry Kane (c) (Tottenham Hotspur) 

Substitutes: 8 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) for Rice 45’, 11 Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) for Sterling 67’, 26 Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) for Grealish 68’, 15 Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) for Stones 79’, 17 Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) for Saka 84’

Substitutes not used: 12 Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), 13 Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United), 16 Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers), 18 Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), 22 Ben White (Brighton and Hove Albion), 23 Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion), 24 Reece James (Chelsea)

Czech Republic (4-2-3-1): Tomas Vaclik; Vladimir Coufal, Ondrej Celustka, Tomas Kalas, Jan Boril; Tomas Holes, Tomas Soucek; Lukas Masopust, Vladimir Darida, Jakub Jankto; Patrik Schick

Substitutes: Petr Sevcik for Jankto 45’, Adam Hlozek for Masopust 64’, Alex Kral for Darida 64’, Tomas Pekhart for Schick 75’, Matej Vydra for Holes 84’

Substitutes not used: Pavel Kaderabek, Jakub Brabec, Antonin Barak, Michael Krmencik, Ales Mandous, Ales Mateju, Tomas Koubek