England Tops Group After Victory Against Czech Republic

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England delivered an efficient performance to beat Czech Republic 1-0 with an early Raheem Sterling header to advance to Euro 2020’s last 16 as Group D winners, with the Czechs through as one of the best third-placed teams.

England boss Gareth Southgate made four changes to the side that produced played out a 0-0 draw against Scotland, handing Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka their first starts of the tournament. Sterling was at the sharp end of England’s early attacks as they began full of energy.

Sterling struck the post in the second minute when he lifted the ball past advancing keeper Tomas Vaclik. Ten minutes later Sterling found the target with a close-range header from a  floated cross by Grealish after a driving run by Saka had split the Czech defence open.

Raheem Sterling (10) scores against Czech Republic during EURO 2020 Group D match at Wembley Stadium in London

Making his first appearance of the tournament, the 19-year-old wide man showed a willingness to run with the ball that was painfully absent from England’s first two performances and, with Grealish a constant menace, the hosts looked more threatening.

The Czechs were neat and tidy without carrying a huge amount of penalty box threat, though Tomas Holes had a shot palmed clear by Jordan Pickford and Tomas Soucek fired just wide in the first half.

England striker Harry Kane (9) marked by Czech Republic defenders during EURO 2020 match

Late in the second half, substitute Jordan Henderson thought he had scored his first goal for England on his 60th appearance  after a scramble, only to see it ruled out for offside.

The referee blew the final whistle and England topped the group with two wins and a draw, three clean sheets, a return to Wembley with a good number of players getting a taste of the action.

“We were not fluent but we had moments where we looked a good side,” said England coach Gareth Southgate. “The Czechs are a really good side. They use the ball well and are really tough to break down. There is more to come from us, definitely.”

“We have not scored from a set play yet. They are crucial in big matches and we have to get those nailed. All of our next opponents will be different games but there are a lot of good things we are doing.”

The Czech Republic were dislodged from second place by Croatia, who beat Scotland 3-1 and will play the Group E runners-up – Sweden, Slovakia, Spain or Poland – in Copenhagen on Monday.

England return to Wembley on Tuesday to face the runners-up from Group E – likely to be France, Germany or Portugal, while the Czechs must wait to find out which group winner they play.

 

Chidi Nwoke/Reuters.

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