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Euro 2020: England beat Croatia by 1-0

Mon 14 Jun 2021, 09:51:42
London: 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.

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.

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.

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.

In another game in Copenhagen, Finland beat Denmark 1-0 in their opening match of Euro 2020 which was overshadowed by Christian Eriksen collapsing and having to be revived on the field by medics.

Joel Pohjanpalo scored the only goal on the hour mark of a Group B match which was stopped for nearly two hours after Danish playmaker Eriksen slumped to the turf towards the end of the first half.

The match, which had kicked off at 1800 local time (1600 GMT), resumed two-and-a-half hours later in front of a passionate crowd at the Parken Stadium.

The two teams played out an uneventful final few minutes of the first half after both sets of players returned to the pitch with several Danish players in tears.

After a short break of five minutes the second half of the match continued with a similar pattern as before Eriksen’s collapse.

Pohjanpalo stunned the crowd into silence with when he headed home Jere Uronen’s cross, capitalising on Finland’s one true chance of the game.



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