England’s highly talented football generation made its own fans dream of a great summer right at the start of the European Championship. Driven by more than 20,000 spectators in their domestic Wembley Stadium, the Three Lions started on Sunday with a hard-fought 1-0 (0-0) win against vice world champions Croatia. Raheem Sterling (57th minute) scored the decisive goal, which caused the football temple in north-west London to shake for a few seconds despite the comparatively low load. The opening success could also be a small step on the way to reconciliation with some of your own followers.
Some of them had booed the team for an anti-racism gesture shortly before the start of the European Championship. When captain Harry Kane and his teammates went to the ground with one knee before kick-off, some spectators again expressed their displeasure, which, however, was as good as drowned in the loud applause of the rest. The Three Lions also want to kneel down before the second preliminary round match against Scotland on Friday. Croatia will also play against the Czech Republic on Friday and are already under pressure.
The first top game of this European Championship did not last for a long time, which many fans might have hoped for. After an atmospheric greeting from their own supporters, the Three Lions seemed to overrun the vice world champion in the initial phase. But after a post hit by super talent Phil Foden (6th) and a volley from Kalvin Phillips (9th), they dismantled just as quickly.
At the start of the European Championship, Southgate surprisingly waived Borussia Dortmund’s winger Jadon Sancho, who had not even made it into the matchday squad. Captain Harry Kane was instead flanked by Sterling and Foden in the attack, but they were barely able to stage the 27-year-old. Because Croatia’s offensive trio around Andrej Kramaric from Hoffenheim hardly appeared, a tough game developed at Wembley.
Sterling redeems the Three Lions
In the remake of the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, Croatian superstar Luka Modric once again directed the guests’ game. Almost everything went through the now 35-year-old, whom the English hardly got under control. At the same time, the Three Lions made an unexpected number of mistakes in the game structure. Above all, Manchester City’s right-back Kyle Walker made several bad passes in the first round.
The English could play up to six home games including the final at Wembley. Anything but at least the semi-finals would therefore be a disappointment, as Southgate had admitted before the tournament. These expectations seemed to crush his team at first – until Sterling took care of the redemption. After a fine interface pass from midfielder Phillips, Sterling came free in front of Croatia’s goalkeeper Livakovic to the ball and sank it for the lead. All of Wembley breathed a sigh of relief at this moment – after the silence of the Corona months, the loud cheers of the majority of the more than 20,000 spectators made a powerful impression.
In contrast, hardly anything came from Croatia. Modric (55th) tried it from a distance shortly afterwards, but his shot was no problem for England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. But the English didn’t push their own lead to their best performance either. It stayed tough in London. A free kick from Mason Mount (67th) went just over the gate. dpa / nd