England scraped past the Czech Republic 1-0 thanks to an early goal from Raheem Sterling, topping their group as a result. A changed England side remained enough to see the Three Lions past a stubborn Czech side, who had to settle for third place in the group as Croatia snatched second.
Here are 5 things 101 picked out from the game.
Table of Contents
Sancho has every right to feel hard done by
After two games without getting onto the Wembley turf at Euro2020, Jadon Sancho was limited to just seven minutes against the Czech Republic. The Borussia Dortmund winger, who contributed 36 goals and assists in 38 games for his club this season, has been unable to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans, despite his fantastic domestic form.
Am surprised Bellingham and Sancho not getting a go. Significant contributions in team that finished 3rd in league, won a trophy and reached CL quarter-finals.
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) June 22, 2021
While Phil Foden was dropped from the side, it was Bukayo Saka, not Sancho, that replaced the Manchester City attacker. Sancho must be wondering just what he has to do to get a look in for the Three Lions.
— Carl Anka (@Ankaman616) June 22, 2021
When he finally did make it onto the pitch, replacing Bukayo Saka,
Saka and Grealish give England another dimension
Despite Sancho’s snub, incoming duo Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish offered a previously stagnant England a new lease of life. The pair were integral to giving England an early lead at Wembley, combining for Sterling’s header.
No player had more touches in the opposition box (3) than the 19-year old. pic.twitter.com/vQrWWwS74p
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 22, 2021
Arsenal star Saka, who flourished in Red and White this season, drove from well within the England half to the edge of the Czech Republic area, before the ball eventually worked its way to Grealish, whose left-footed cross was inch-perfect for Sterling to nod home.
Grealish and Saka pulling the strings for England 🤩 pic.twitter.com/vHyLcpLJo9
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 22, 2021
Both Saka and Grealish have done their reputation no harm whatsoever, and have made what was a tricky selection headache for Southgate even harder.
England will play their Round of 16 game at Wembley
This result means that England have topped group D, finishing three points clear of Croatia in second place.
It looks as though the result will hand England tougher opposition than had they finished as runners-up in the group. England will face the runners-up from Group F, which has come to be known as the “group of death”.
This fixture could pair the Three Lions up against any of the last three major tournament winners (Portugal, France and Germany), or perhaps even Hungary, who can yet finish runners-up.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 19, 2021
Significantly, however, England will be playing their opposition at Wembley, maintaining their 100% record of playing games in London this tournament. With the stadium capacity to increase to 40,000 in the latest relaxation of Covid rules, it could well prove to be the home advantage the Three Lions need.
England’s injury woes are behind them
Ahead of the tournament, all of the focus was on injury issues in the England camp. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mason Greenwood were both forced to withdraw from the squad due to injury, with second-choice goalkeeper Dean Henderson having to pull out days later.
Beyond these three, injury concerns hung over both Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson, who have been mainstays in the England side when fit.
Harry Maguire played more passes into the final third  than any other England player in the first half vs. Czech Republic.
Elite ball-player. 🎯🎯🎯 pic.twitter.com/1OYTCjdMDX
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) June 22, 2021
Missing for the first two games, both featured against the Czech Republic in some capacity.
Maguire started in the heart of the defence alongside John Stones, while Jordan Henderson was introduced at half-time at the expense of Declan Rice.
Their recoveries will give England confidence that they will now have a full 26-man-squad to call on for the round-of-16 fixture, and hopefully all the way to the final.
Kane moving in the right direction
It was another tough night for Harry Kane, who made it a third successive game without a goal at Euro2020. However, the Tottenham Hotspur forward seemed more energetic, and registered his first shots on target in the first half against the Czechs.
He was helped by the dynamism of Saka and Grealish, who were able to commit players and give Kane more space to operate in. Despite the move in the right direction, however, England will need their frontman to be firing if they want to bring the European Championship trophy home.
‘If you’re not playing, you’re not happy’: Raheem Sterling appears to drop hint he is frustrated at lack of playing time with Man City
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