Raheem Sterling scored his first tournament goal for England as the Three Lions got off to a dream start at Euro 2020 with a 1-0 win over Croatia.
Gareth Southgate’s men had Croatia on the ropes in the opening stages and could have taken the lead.
After the first-half ended on a slow note, though, Wembley erupted when Manchester City winger Sterling netted after build-up from midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who was one of the game’s best players.
From there, England controlled proceedings to ensure they rose – albeit early in the tournament – to the top of Group D.
England’s electric start involved Phil Foden, who hit the post after being set up Raheem Sterling on a surprise breakaway from a throw-in.
Sterling then had his own chance inside the box but was barged away before he could shoot. From the resultant corner, Leeds United‘s Phillips had a snapshot saved from the edge of the area.
Croatia were subsequently hanging on for the first 10 minutes, but grew into the game without creating too many chances.
But as they continued to settle, Ivan Perisic’s shot over the bar from a cross after 27 minutes was their first big chance.
The first-half lull continued until the break, as Kieran Trippier‘s free-kick hit Perisic’s head – denying him a repeat of his 2018 World Cup semi-final heroics against Croatia.
Perisic was involved again late on in the first period, but was beaten to the ball by Tyrone Mings, who also enjoyed a solid afternoon.
Croatia began the second half on top and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had to hoof clear to beat his opponent to Trippier’s short, headed-back pass. Modric then had a tame shot from way out but Pickford saved comfortably.
Sterling nets huge England goal
However, the Three Lions then hit the killer opening blow after 57 minutes with Sterling’s goal, his first in a major tournament.
After neat build-up play, Phillips glided through a challenge and found a fantastic pass inside the Croatia defence to the winger, whose strike made Wembley erupt.
England were well on top and Harry Kane almost made it two from a Foden cross. But after a worrying moment saw the striker clash heavily with the post, he got to his feet to another roar from the England faithful.
Mateo Kovacic’s snapshot went wide for Croatia, before his Blues team-mate Mason Mount fired just over from another free-kick.
Croatia made subsequent attacking changes, with former Chelsea striker Mario Pasalic coming on after Bruno Petkovic.
However, Southgate’s men held on with the support of 17-year-old substitute Jude Bellingham to storm to an opening win.
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