Categories: Sports

Sterling’s Strike Against Croatia Gives England Winning Start To Euro 2020

England’s forward Raheem Sterling (C) celebrates scoring his team’s first goal with England’s midfielder Kalvin Phillips (L)e during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group D football match between England and Croatia at Wembley Stadium in London on June 13, 2021. Glyn KIRK / POOL / AFP

 

Raheem Sterling ignited England’s Euro 2020 campaign as the Manchester City forward’s clinical finish sealed a 1-0 win against Croatia in their Group D opener on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate’s side were struggling to break down Croatia until Sterling struck in the second half at sun-baked Wembley.

The 26-year-old’s first goal at a major tournament — in his 13th game — was the perfect riposte to critics who questioned Southgate’s decision to select him instead of Jack Grealish.

Sterling has endured a chequered relationship with England fans after being hounded following his tame performances at Euro 2016.

He also struggled to hold down a place with Premier League champions City this term, culminating in his lacklustre display in their Champions League final defeat against Chelsea.

But, days after he was given an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his anti-racism campaigning, Sterling enjoyed a perfectly-timed moment of redemption.

“I always said if I played at Wembley at a major tournament I had to score. It’s great to finally do that,” said Sterling, who grew up close to the national stadium.

“There’s a lot of different reasons why I haven’t scored for my club and it’s totally irrelevant now. I’m here with England and I’m enjoying my football.

“Have I justified my selection? I’m trying. I’ve focused on myself and tried to come into the tournament with a clear head.”

READ ALSO: Lukaku Urges Eriksen To ‘Stay Strong’ As Belgium Make Winning Start To Euro 2020


England’s forward Raheem Sterling (C) celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group D football match between England and Croatia at Wembley Stadium in London on June 13, 2021. Glyn KIRK / POOL / AFP

 

In a rematch of the 2018 World Cup semi-final won by Croatia, England were hampered by a lack of cutting edge until Sterling came to the rescue.

Sterling’s winner eased the tension at Wembley and got fans bellowing ‘Football’s coming home’ in the hope England can emulate their run to the semi-finals when they hosted Euro 96, and maybe even win a major tournament for the first time since the 1966 World Cup.

“I’m so pleased for Raheem. He was dangerous all game. His goalscoring record suggests we should have faith in him and I think he was motivated to show that,” Southgate said.

In truth, this was a far from convincing performance, but Southgate will take heart from the way his team kept their nerve on a pressure-packed occasion.

“It’s lovely to have given our fans and our country a really enjoyable afternoon. The players dealt with the big occasion really well,” Southgate said.

“There were moments where the tempo dropped because of the incredible heat. But the majority of the game we were in control and didn’t give Croatia many opportunities. We looked dangerous.”

England hold firm


England’s coach Gareth Southgate embraces England’s forward Raheem Sterling as he leaves the pitch after being substituted during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group D football match between England and Croatia at Wembley Stadium in London on June 13, 2021. Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP

 

England host neighbours Scotland in their second Group D match on Friday before taking on the Czech Republic in their final game of the first stage on June 22.

Southgate’s surprise decision to select Kalvin Phillips proved an inspired move as, along with Sterling, the Leeds midfielder was England’s most accomplished performer.

Manchester City forward Phil Foden, his hair bleached blond, has drawn comparisons with England legend Paul Gascoigne, who sported the same eye-catching hair cut during Euro 96.

Foden was inches away from giving England the perfect start in the sixth minute with the kind of magic that made Gascoigne so beloved.

Collecting Sterling’s pass on the edge of the area, Foden worked space to curl his left-footed shot off the far post.

But Southgate’s men showed signs of running out of ideas after their early flurry failed to yield a goal.

Fans chanted for the introduction of Aston Villa playmaker Grealish after a slow start to the second half.

But Sterling quelled the mounting anxiety as England struck in the 57th minute.

Phillips was the catalyst as he burst forward past two Croatians and slipped a deft pass behind the defensive line.

Sterling arrived just ahead of his lunging marker and slotted a low shot past Dominik Livakovic from 10 yards.

In the absence of the injured Harry Maguire, Tyrone Mings and John Stones were up to the task as England’s centre-backs held firm to clinch a victory in their opening European Championship game for the first time.

AFP

Emmanuel Egobiambu

Disqus Comments Loading...
Share
Published by
Emmanuel Egobiambu
Tags: Euro news Sterling goal Sterling news

Recent Posts

  • Info Tech

TikTok Tops Facebook As Most Downloaded App Of 2020

TikTok was the world's most downloaded app last year, overtaking Facebook and its messaging platforms, market tracker App Annie said Tuesday.

10 hours ago
  • Health

Katsina Cholera Outbreak Death Toll Rises To 75

One hundred and thirty four additional cases of cholera Outbreak have been confirmed with fifteen deaths across 25 Local Government…

10 hours ago
  • Local

Why EFCC Invited Me – Senator Seriake

  Senator Seriake Dickson has explained that he was at the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)…

10 hours ago
  • Africa

Algeria Wildfires Kill 38, Authorities Blame Arson

Wildfires fanned by blistering temperatures and tinder-dry conditions have killed at least 38 people in Algeria, authorities said on Tuesday,…

10 hours ago
  • Sports

Messi Joins PSG After 21 Years At Barcelona

Argentine star Lionel Messi has joined Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), two days after he confirmed his exit from Barcelona. 

11 hours ago
  • Local

FG Has Made 15% Deposit For J&J Vaccines – NPHCDA

The Federal Government has made a 15 per cent deposit for the procurement of the 29 million doses of the…

12 hours ago