Harry Kane shrugged off his substitution after an anonymous outing in England's underwhelming 0-0 Euro 2020 draw with Scotland on Friday.

England were frustrated by Scotland, with Steve Clarke's men arguably creating more clear-cut chances as they kept their hopes of progression alive.

Kane was particularly disappointing for the Three Lions, as he managed just 19 touches before being substituted for Marcus Rashford in the 74th minute.

That was the fewest touches he has ever had during an England game in which he has played more than 45 minutes, while he failed to get a shot on target for a second successive match.

 

He has not gone two consecutive games across all competitions without a single accurate shot since last November, but Kane showed little acknowledgement of his below-par showing.

When asked for his opinion on being withdrawn, Kane told ITV: "It's part of the game.

"The manager will make decisions that he thinks are best for the team. If he feels that was the right decision, then sometimes you just have to take it.

"It is what it is. We've got another game in a few days – let's recover well and get ready for that."

Pressed on if he felt there was anything in particular lacking from his own game, Kane added: "It was a tough game – Scotland defended really well, made good blocks at the right times.

"We know no game is going to be easy. It's a European Championship and Scotland are playing for their lives."

 

England defender Tyrone Mings was also asked about the significance of Kane's substitution, and he was eager to absolve the Tottenham star of any blame.

"I don't think that's a reflection of his performance or him," Mings said. "We as a team have a responsibility to attack together and defend together.

"We all have to take joint-responsibility when things don't go quite right."

 

England are left on four points from their two games and sit second in Group D, behind Czech Republic on goal difference.

The Three Lions face the Czechs on Tuesday at Wembley and, although they will definitely go through with a draw, only a victory will secure top spot.

Scotland need to beat Croatia to stand any chance of reaching the last 16 themselves.

 

As concerns over social distancing and flight restrictions continue to surround Euro 2020, John Stones gave everyone the opportunity to construct their own joke when he soared high above the Scotland defence with no one particularly near him in the 11th minute at Wembley on Friday.

The England centre-back's jump was slightly mis-timed, though, and his header from a right-wing corner crashed against the post.

Worryingly for Gareth Southgate – well, as worried as it's sensible to be with four points on the board from two games in a group stage format lacking too much jeopardy – that was the closest the hosts came to breaking the deadlock in a 0-0 draw that crackled away without ever truly catching fire.

When England reached their first major tournament semi-final for 28 years at the 2018 World Cup, it felt churlish to complain that they often lacked threat from open play. Goals from well-constructed set-pieces count the same and there was an exciting generation of attacking talent on the way.

And yet, as Phil Foden and Mason Mount schemed against a disciplined Scotland with typical intelligence and craft, as Wembley clamour for Jack Grealish was sated midway through the second half and as Jadon Sancho inexplicably remained an unused substitute, here we were.

Rabid debate is now sure to follow over how England's support attackers should be configured, but concern might be better directed towards one of Southgate's untouchables.

When Harry Kane trudged off to be replaced by Marcus Rashford in the 74th minute, it was surprising only because of his deserved status as one of the finest centre-forwards in world football, not at all because of his performance.

 

In the first half, no player had fewer than Kane's 10 touches. That tally edged up to 19 by the time he departed and everything in between had been horribly laboured – even when Scotland bodies briefly appeared to part and his tired left-footed shot was blocked before the hour.

The opening two Group D games are the first time since last November that Kane has not managed a shot on target in a consecutive matches. Those games were against Chelsea and Manchester City.

If Kane is tired, it would be understandable. Among players classed as forwards by Opta in the Premier League, only Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins (3,329) and his Tottenham colleague Son Heung-min (3,121) played more than his 3,085 top-flight minutes in 2020-21.

The fact is that Scotland's unheralded front two Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams comfortably outplayed Kane and both came closer to scoring – QPR's Dykes in particular when he forced Reece James into a goalline clearance.

Kane's reputation as a creator has blossomed in recent years – he topped the Premier League standings for goals and assists last term – and he laid on a 55th-minute chance from which James should have done far better.

Still, his overall contribution, on and off the ball, was negligible, as England plodded about the turf ponderously deep, unable to muster more than Mount's solitary shot on target early in the second period.

 

The Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips midfield axis worked to fine effect in nullifying and overpowering Luka Modric and Croatia's arch schemers at the weekend. In the knockout stages, they could be vital in tandem once more, but as this match ticked by it felt like an excess of insurance.

As was the case during some of the less triumphant moments in Russia, Southgate stuck with his shape when dropping Mount deeper and deploying Grealish in tandem with Foden instead of sacrificing the Manchester City youngster looked like the best way to open up the contest.

Southgate's decision to stick rather than twist in-game is not a new problem, nor was the lack of creativity to which it contributed. However, they were issues that did not prevent England from going deep in the last World Cup or defeating its beaten finalists.

They are not new problems and are surmountable if all else is working well. On the other hand, an off-colour, non-threatening Kane is a new and growing problem and certainly not one England can continue to absorb if they want to bring football "home" or even to a vaguely agreeable postcode.

England failed to make absolutely certain of a spot in the knockout phase of Euro 2020 as they were held to a 0-0 draw by bitter rivals Scotland at Wembley on Friday.

The Three Lions went into the contest as favourites, particularly given the two teams' contrasting fortunes on matchday one, but Scotland produced a spirited performance to secure a point from what was the first goalless match between the old rivals in 33 meetings at Wembley.

Scotland had more clear chances than England in a gruelling – albeit unspectacular – first half, though the best opportunity came the way of John Stones, who nodded onto the upright.

Otherwise, though, England were largely unimpressive going forward, with Harry Kane particularly disappointing as Gareth Southgate's men were unable to find a winner, the draw meaning both teams have work to do on matchday three.

 

Stones was in the thick of frantic early action as he first crucially blocked a potentially goal-bound Che Adams shot before then having a header cannon back off the post at the other end.

England's only other clear chances of the first half were ultimately irrelevant as Kane and Phil Foden strayed offside while narrowly missing the target, making it the first competitive match since November 2014 in which the Three Lions failed to get a first-half shot on target.

Scotland did create one other great opportunity, though, with Stephen O'Donnell latching on to Andrew Robertson's cross and seeing Jordan Pickford parry his volley.

Mason Mount tried to take matters into his own hands soon after the restart, his fierce 20-yard effort turned away from the bottom-left corner by David Marshall.

Reece James then headed clear a dangerous-looking Lyndon Dykes effort shortly after, though replays did suggest his effort was going to at most hit the post rather than find the net.

Harry Maguire is fit enough to be involved in England's Euro 2020 clash with Scotland on Friday, Gareth Southgate has confirmed.

But the Three Lions boss also revealed he has yet to make a decision over whether the defender is ready to feature from the start at Wembley.

Maguire has been out of action since sustaining an ankle injury during a Manchester United win over Aston Villa in early May.

However, he was included in England's squad this summer regardless and, according to his manager, is now nearing a return to the pitch.

Southgate said: "Harry will be involved tomorrow. The decision we have got to make is whether he's ready to start but we're really pleased with his progress. 

"He's trained with the team for four or five days now and had no reaction and each session that he's involved in he gets more confident. 

"I think he's on a really good path. Of course, we want everybody available, it causes difficult decisions but this morning we had 26 players training and that's a great situation for us to be in."

Maguire was not the only injured player somewhat controversially named in England's squad, with Jordan Henderson also among the final 26 despite missing the end of the season.

But, when asked about the recent debate over the Liverpool captain's inclusion, Southgate explained that his off-the-field influence was a major factor in his involvement. 

He continued: "I think with the 26-man squad we were able to take a little bit more of a risk with Hendo. 

"What he brings to the group on the training pitch, around the camp, his experience, the way he can speak to some of the other players in those quiet moments around the hotel, the way he trains the way he approaches his work, it's a great advantage for us to have him with the team. 

"He's training consistently now and he's getting closer to the level that we need him to be at. Also, I think we've got some decent cover in that area of the pitch. 

"But I think that the drop-off from not taking Hendo was such that we preferred to give him the opportunity to make it. 

"You've got to have the physical part, there's no doubt about that, even if it's for 15-20 minutes in the game. you've got to be able to press well, you've got to be able to get around the pitch well, but there are other factors when you're building your squad and when you're building a team. 

"All of those parts are key to producing a winning environment."

England's win over Croatia in their first group game means they can qualify for the knockout stages of the European Championship by beating their old rivals Scotland.

Southgate is confident that his players will be able to keep their cool in an undeniably high-stakes fixture.

He added: "We know that you've got to compete because otherwise you can get overrun in any game, but our focus has been on solving the tactical problems that Scotland pose with the way that they play, the way they defend, the way they attack. 

"Our focus has got to be on getting better with every game that we play. For the fans and for us it's a big occasion but it's another opportunity for three points and our objective is qualification so that's what we've got to focus on. 

"In the past we've done that well, I thought we did that well on Sunday. [It] was a big occasion for everybody and – with the heat as well – I thought we dealt with that really, really well."

England and Scotland will meet for the 100th time in competitive internationals on Friday in a match that could prove pivotal to their respective Euro 2020 campaigns.

The Three Lions began Group D with a 1-0 win over Croatia at Wembley, while Scotland suffered a 2-0 loss to the Czech Republic, Patrik Schick scoring from a header and then a quite remarkable strike from near the halfway line.

This is typically a high-scoring match: these teams have met 32 times previously at England's national stadium and none of those matches has ended goalless. In the 21st century, this fixture averages four goals per game, with England scoring 11 and Scotland five overall.

Victory for Gareth Southgate's side would guarantee their place in the last 16, while a positive result is a must for Scotland: should Steve Clarke's men lose and Croatia fail to beat the Czech Republic, the Scots will be unable to finish in the top two and must rely on their chances of ending up as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Recent history is not on Scotland's side. They have beaten England just once in their past 11 meetings: a 1-0 win at Wembley in November 1999, secured by a Don Hutchison goal. Their only previous meeting at a major tournament, back at Euro 96, saw England win 2-0 thanks to goals from Alan Shearer and Paul Gascoigne.

 

England defender Harry Maguire, who has declared himself fit enough to be involved after recovering from an ankle ligament injury, expects "a great occasion" when Friday's game begins at 20:00 local time.

"Of course it is a big game," said the Manchester United captain. "Any game in the Euros is a massive game, putting Scotland in there as well is huge.

"It is going to be a great day, a great occasion for the country to get together and push us forward and try our best to go and get the three points and perform on the day.

"It will only be a great day if we get the three points and then I am sure we will enjoy the occasion."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England – Kalvin Phillips

Arguably the best player on the pitch against Croatia, Phillips delivered an accomplished display, assisting Raheem Sterling's goal as he completed 95 per cent of his passes in the opposition half, the most of any starting player.

With Jordan Henderson struggling to be fit, the Leeds United man could well keep his place for a game in which his passing array could prove useful.

Scotland – David Marshall

Marshall made five saves against the Czech Republic but still came in for criticism for Schick's second, given how far he was off his line when Scotland's attack broke down.

The Derby County goalkeeper could be pivotal to Scotland's chances of a result here, though, as England will be expected to create opportunities.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- England have won all six of their matches in all competitions in 2021, only the third time they have won their opening six matches of a calendar year (also in 1909 and 1986). They have never won their first seven in a year previously, while the Three Lions last won seven consecutive games between September 2014 and March 2015 under Roy Hodgson.
- Scotland have failed to score in five of their seven matches at the European Championship. The only games in which they have found the net have been in their third and final group games of their two previous appearances (3-0 vs CIS in 1992, 1-0 vs Switzerland in 1996).
- Scotland had the highest expected goals tally of any of the four sides in Group D on matchday one (1.9). However, they were unable to convert any of 19 attempts in their defeat to the Czech Republic.
- Sterling has been directly involved in 19 goals in his past 17 appearances for England (13 goals, six assists). Sterling has ended on the winning side in all 11 previous matches when he has scored for the Three Lions, the best 100 per cent win record in games scored in England's entire history. He has also played the most games for England at Wembley without losing (23 – W21 D2).
- Andy Robertson created six chances for Scotland against the Czech Republic, the most of any player in Group D on matchday one. In fact, in European Championship history only Gary McAllister (16) and Gordon Durie (seven) have created more chances than Robertson among Scottish players, despite those players playing at least four games more than the Liverpool defender.

Harry Maguire has declared himself fit to play in the Euro 2020 clash between England and Scotland at Wembley on Friday.

The Manchester United captain has been sidelined since suffering ankle ligament damage on May 9 in the Red Devils' 3-1 Premier League win at Aston Villa.

Maguire was hurt after falling awkwardly beneath Anwar El Ghazi. He sat out United's final five games of the season, including the Europa League final, which ended in defeat on penalties to Villarreal.

The centre-back was not ready to feature in England's warm-up games with Austria and Lithuania or the 1-0 win over Croatia last Sunday, in which Tyrone Mings partnered John Stones at the heart of Gareth Southgate's defence.

Speaking on Wednesday, Maguire said: "I feel good. I'm back available, I've been training and I'm looking forward to it. I've done a few sessions now and I feel like my fitness is there."

Confirming he was "available to the manager for selection," for the Scotland game, Maguire added: "I'm here as a player but also as a fan so I fully understand my position in the camp. Whatever happens, I want England to win – that's my main focus."

Maguire felt buoyed by Southgate's decision to include him in England's 26-man squad despite knowing he would miss at least the opening group game with Croatia.

"Gareth has shown great faith in me and that's not just in this camp, it's since I made my debut," he said. "I know Gareth trusts me and it gives me great confidence to come here and try and do as much as I can for him and, most importantly, for the country.

"I knew it was a pretty serious injury because it didn't come from impact or contact. I knew it was a twist straight away so there would be some sort of ligament damage in there. Obviously, you fear the worst but I'm here now and ready to go.

"I haven't had an ankle injury before but, from speaking to players and physios, I'm sure it will be niggling. As long as it's stable and the pain is bearable then I'm sure I'll be fine."

 

SOUTHGATE'S ROCK

Maguire played in all eight of England's games for Euro 2020 qualifying, more than any other defender, helping the Three Lions to keep five clean sheets in those matches.

The former Leicester City man averaged 2.75 successful aerials and 1.6 interceptions per 90 minutes, the most among defenders.

He also completed by far the most passes (672) and most long passes (38) in those eight matches, as England finished top of Group A with seven wins from eight games.

In total, England have won 62.5 per cent of the 32 senior games Maguire has played, keeping 16 clean sheets and conceding 23 goals.

Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson has withdrawn from England's Euro 2020 squad due to a hip problem, with Aaron Ramsdale named as his replacement.

Henderson had the highest save percentage in the Premier League of all goalkeepers who played 10 or more games in the 2020-21 season, repelling 76.47 per cent of shots in his 13 appearances for United.

He looked set to be a serious rival to Jordan Pickford for the Three Lions, but Henderson's tournament is over already.

UEFA rules mean England – like all competing nations – are allowed to change their goalkeeping options on medical grounds, such as when injuries strike.

The Football Association (FA) said Henderson's problem would have limited his involvement in training during the tournament.

"The Manchester United goalkeeper will now return to his club for further assessment and rehabilitation ahead of the 2021-22 season," the FA said.

Sheffield United's Ramsdale is highly regarded by England boss Gareth Southgate and comes in to take over from Henderson, although Sam Johnstone looks set to be understudy to Pickford for the Group D Wembley clash with Scotland on Friday.

Ramsdale, who like West Brom's Johnstone experienced relegation from the Premier League, had the third highest save percentage among England-qualified Premier League goalkeepers (minimum 10 games) in 2020-21, with a handy 69.86 per cent record.

That put him behind Henderson and Burnley's Nick Pope (75.33 per cent). Pope is absent from the Euro 2020 squad due to injury.

Ramsdale, who was ever present in the Blades' league campaign, had a marginally better record than Pickford (69.77 per cent).

Johnstone made the most saves of all goalkeepers in the English top flight, with 166, which was 19 more than second-placed Ramsdale managed.

The Netherlands edged a 3-2 thriller with Ukraine in the pick of the Euro 2020 matches to date, while England and Austria also got off the mark in their opening group games on Sunday.

Denzel Dumfries was the late hero for the Oranje with his first international goal to sink Ukraine, who had battled back from two goals down in Amsterdam to temporarily level things.

Austria also left it late to see off minnows North Macedonia 3-1 in Bucharest earlier in the day and England beat Croatia 1-0 at Wembley through a well-taken Raheem Sterling strike.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at some of the best facts from across Sunday's entertaining action at Euro 2020.

England 1-0 Croatia: Three Lions make winning start at Wembley

Sterling's first goal at a major international tournament in his 13th appearance was enough for England to overcome Croatia in a repeat of the 2018 World Cup semi-final.

Croatia offered very little in response as England made it 11 straight victories in games in which Sterling has scored – the best-such win rate of any player in the nation's history.

The Three Lions are now unbeaten in 12 games at Wembley in major tournaments (exluding penalty shoot-outs), winning eight and drawing four of those matches.

The victory for Gareth Southgate's side in their Group D opener was their seventh in a row in all competitions – their best such run since March 2015 under Roy Hodgson.

It was also the first time England have won their opening game at a European Championship finals in their 10th participation in the tournament.

That is in contrast to Croatia, who lost their first match in the competition for the first time, having won four and drawn one of the previous five.

The contest was also a special occasion for England substitute Jude Bellingham, who at 17 years and 349 days became the youngest ever player to feature at the Euros.

Austria 3-1 North Macedonia: Substitutes strike late to deny tournament debutants

North Macedonia's first ever game at a major tournament ended with a late defeat to Austria in Bucharest.

Aged 37 years and 321 days, 120-cap Goran Pandev became the second-oldest goalscorer in the competition when cancelling out Stefan Lainer's opener.

That was just Lainer's second goal for Austria, with his only other international strike coming against North Macedonia in qualifying.

Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic were introduced to snatch the three points for Austria – their first ever win at the European Championships in what was their seventh game.

In doing so, Gregoritsch and Arnautovic became the first pair to score from the bench for the same country in the competition since Michy Batshuayi and Yannick Carrasco for Belgium (v Hungary) in 2016.

Arnautovic's goal to make certain of the win was his 27th for Austria at senior level, with three of those coming against North Macedonia – more than he has managed against any other country.

Netherlands 3-2 Ukraine: Oranje leave it late to edge thriller

The Netherlands ended a run of four straight defeats at the European Championship with a dramatic victory against Ukraine in Amsterdam.

All five goals were scored in the second half, making it the highest-scoring fixture in the competition's history after a goalless first half.

The first half may have ended scoreless, but the tempo was set early on as there were nine shots in the opening 10 minutes – a tournament record since Opta started recording such data in 1980.

Georginio Wijnaldum opened the scoring in the 52nd minute with his 15th goal in 26 appearances for Oranje, having scored only eight times in his first 50 games for his national side.

Wout Weghorst added a second soon after, but Andriy Yarmolenko pulled one back with a sublime strike to end a run of 72 shots without a goal for Ukraine at the Euros.

From the visitors' very next attempt, Roman Yaremchuk headed in an equaliser to seemingly steal a point at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

But Dumfries found the back of the net in the 85th minute, making it the latest game-winning goal for the Netherlands at the Euros since current boss Frank de Boer scored an 89th-minute penalty against Czech Republic at Euro 2000.

Raheem Sterling felt it was important to "block the outside world off" ahead of his match-winning turn in England's 1-0 Euro 2020 victory over Croatia.

Manchester City forward Sterling was played in for the only goal following some fabulous play by Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips after 57 minutes at Wembley.

The 26-year-old's club future has been the subject of mounting speculation after losing his place as an automatic starter for Pep Guardiola, while there has been little progress in talks over extending his contract at the Etihad Stadium that expires in 2023.

A solitary goal for City since the end of February, allayed with the enviable options Gareth Southgate has in attack for England, led to calls for Sterling to be ditched in favour of Jack Grealish ahead of the Group D opener.

Additionally, Sterling had failed to score in 12 previous outings at major tournaments for his country, but now has 13 in his past 17 appearances for the Three Lions.

"To be honest with you, I think playing football and being in major tournaments for a long time now, one of the things you learn is knowing when to block noise out," he told a post-match news conference after being named UEFA's Star of the Match.

"That's what I've done. I've blocked the outside world off and just tried to focus on coming into this tournament with a clear head, fully focused to help my team and that's the most important thing.

"I've haven't tried to listen to any noise outside – focus on myself, I know what I can bring to the team and it's as simple as that."

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Southgate hailed Sterling's all-round contribution on a sweltering London afternoon, with the winger's 12 duels contested more than any of his team-mates.

"He's been a reliable performer for us for a long period of time and his goals record in the last two-and-a-half years with us and with his club… even this year, I know people are saying he hasn't hit the heights but he's still one-in-three for his club," he said, seemingly joining Sterling in the block-noise-out club.

"We can't have all the scoring burden on Harry [Kane]. You've got to have players in those wide areas and in midfield who can chip in as well.

"I thought he looked a threat the whole day. I have to also say his work without the ball was phenomenal, positionally and the desire to track and stop them advancing."

Phillips was another player to catch the eye with and without the ball.

He was second to Sterling with 11 duels contested and recovered possession more often than any other England player (seven).

The 25-year-old completed 31 of 33 passes overall and 19 of 20 inside the opposition half, including his assist for Sterling at the end of a driving run and a wonderful piece of skill.

"To be able to work with the coach [Marcelo Bielsa] that he has and to have a season of playing in the Premier League will have given him tremendous confidence," Southgate said.

"All those attributes were there – the range of passing, the athleticism, the desire. He's just a very good footballer – high performance, low maintenance. We like that a lot."

Sterling was understandably very appreciative of Phillips' performance.

"He was good in there, he brings a lot of energy to the team. He's on the front foot, at opposition midfielders and always in their faces," he added.

"At the same time he's great with the ball, uses the ball well. For our goal you can see the clever play, the drive with the ball, the little skill at the end and a great weight of pass.

"He brings a lot to the team. It's a credit to him – first major tournament and he's done brilliantly today."

Gareth Southgate hailed Raheem Sterling after the Manchester City forward slayed personal and collective demons in England's 1-0 Euro 2020 win over Croatia.

Sterling latched on to Kalvin Phillips' 57th-minute pass to score the only goal in the Group D opener.

Much of the pre-match speculation had centred around whether Sterling would – or, indeed, should – retain his place in Southgate's forward line, having endured a disappointing end to the season at club level.

He was also without a goal in 12 previous major tournament appearances for the Three Lions, but Sterling also had 12 in 16 appearances since the 2018 World Cup and picked the perfect time to continue that prolific run.

"I'm so pleased for Raheem. He's had this hex in the tournaments not being able to get the goal," Southgate told BBC Sport, after England won their opening game of a European Championship campaign at the 10th time of asking.

"I thought he was dangerous all day.

"He's a good player and his goalscoring records suggests that we should have faith with him, especially over the last few years. I think he was motivated to show that."

Phillips' assist crowned a superb showing from the Leeds United man, who more than justified his selection alongside Declan Rice and Mason Mount – England's midfield three ensuring Luka Modric and Croatia's masterful ballplayers were unable exert their influence upon the contest for any sustained period.

"Kalvin is a player who is so understated and has had a fantastic start to his international career," Southgate said.

"I thought he was immense throughout the game, I though they all were.

"Croatia, I think the key is to get pressure on their midfield players and we managed to do that. That limited the supply and the players at the back dealt with the long balls and read the game well.

"I think it was a day where everyone who go onto the pitch did well. We're going to need that for the next four weeks."

Towards the end of a fairly torrid first 15 minutes at Wembley for Croatia, Mateo Kovacic shuffled away from his penalty area with the ball at his feet and boos swelled up.

It was notable that the England supporters had not had cause to goad any significant spell of Croatian possession up until that point. Still, on Kovacic went and found the normally sure-footed Marcelo Brozovic, who duffed the ball out of play.

England gained a measure of revenge for their World Cup semi-final defeat to these opponents three years ago in the 2018-19 Nations League, but the more comparable stakes of this Euro 2020 opener meant talk of a rematch dominated the build-up.

In Moscow, Luka Modric and his midfield cohort deftly cut away England's early advantage via a thousand passes (well, 594 if we're being sticklers for the statistics over 120 minutes) to reach the final.

The spectacle of the Three Lions surrendering central areas to a technically proficient team was very familiar, for all that Gareth Southgate's side threatened a new beginning.

In the interim period, particularly the 12-month delay to the start of this tournament, the England manager has churned through plenty of squad turnover, with fresh faces not scarred by that agonising near-miss.

But new men repeating old mistakes is no way to end 55 years of hurt, and there was something of that in the much-discussed team sheet that Southgate produced.

Vibrant attacking talents such as Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho – the latter not even making the bench – having to look on as a two-man defensive midfield shield lined up, were unpopular notes of caution at a time of national fervour.

Yorkshire Pirlo purrs on the big stage

But having Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips manning central areas was key to passages of play such as Kovacic and Brozovic's ponderous exchange unfolding, as Phil Foden rattled the post and England threatened to fly out of the blocks.

Modric dropped deep to apply a measure of control before the interval and Chelsea's Kovacic found a smooth rhythm, but not to the extent they escaped Phillips. Freed from his usual holding role, the Leeds United man was everywhere – even flagged offside, something that never happened to him during the whole 2020-21 domestic season.

 

From the Stockport Iniesta to the Yorkshire Pirlo, this England team have their share of daft nudge-wink nicknames (shhhh, Modric might think they're being arrogant) but Phillips did all he could to live up to his, completing 95 per cent of his passes in the opposition half.

Bolstered by Mason Mount's clever movement and use of the ball, Croatia's midfield maestros were never allowed to enjoy Wembley's vast expanses.

That is not to say everything Southgate plumped for worked. Harry Kane was a worryingly marginal presence and only had two touches in the Croatia box. With one of those, he failed to convert at the back post when found by a brilliant Mount cross – the sort of first-time delivery usually not available as Kieran Trippier, the right-back playing at left-back, who checked back on to his stronger foot time and again.

But arguably Southgate's most disputed call proved decisive.

Sterling sounds righteous roar for Three Lions

Amid clamour for the dazzling Grealish to be unleashed, popular opinion had turned against Raheem Sterling's presence in the England attack. As Manchester City claimed a third Premier League title in four seasons, he became an unusually bit-part player for Pep Guardiola. His outing in the Champions League final defeat against Chelsea in Porto did plenty to explain why.

The 26-year-old has one goal for his club since February but has been a mainstay for Southgate, who chose to reward those performances. Since the last World Cup, Sterling's 12 goals and six assists were second only to Kane, while no England player had more than his 11 from open play.

Even when he is not in top form, Sterling makes life hell for defenders. On a sweltering day at the national stadium that overlooks his childhood home, he did not stop. His 12 duels contested were more than any team-mate and he forced a promising first-half free-kick from which Trippier hit the wall.

 

As the hour approached, Sterling was still without a goal for England in a major tournament. Then Phillips strode through midfield with poise and power to pick out the forward, who held his nerve to pouch a 1-0 victory.

"I've always said, if I'm playing at Wembley in a major tournament – my back garden – then I'm scoring," the beaming matchwinner told BBC Sport afterwards.

In the wider context of this game, there could not be a more fitting match-winner for a team taking a knee and taking a stand for positive change.

Sterling has been at the forefront of these conversations since calling out unequal media coverage for white and black players in December 2018, the day after he was abused from the stands in a match at Chelsea.

A year earlier, he was attacked outside City's training ground by a man who received prison time for kicking him and hurling racist abuse ahead of a game against Tottenham. Sterling scored twice in a 4-1 win.

He also scored for England while targeted by monkey chants in Montenegro and Bulgaria in 2019. With dignity and eloquence, Sterling has been at his best when faced with the worst of this sport. His roar of righteous joy back on home turf was richly deserved.

Raheem Sterling is delighted to be playing a major part for England after he bookended a difficult time with Manchester City by scoring the winner against Croatia.

England started their Euro 2020 Group D campaign with a 1-0 victory at Wembley, Sterling netting in the 57th minute.

It was the 26-year-old's 19th direct goal involvement (13 goals, six assists) in his last 17 appearances for England, while it was his first strike in a major tournament.

Sterling endured a difficult end to the season at City, and regularly found himself out of Pep Guardiola's first XI, though he did start in the Champions League final.

Yet the former Liverpool man, who has been rumoured to be unhappy with his playing time at City, is thrilled to be in the England camp.

"It feels good. I've always said, if I play at Wembley in a major tournament, then I'm scoring, it's in my back garden, I have to score! It's great to finally do that," he told BBC Sport.

"There's a lot of different reasons why I haven't scored for my club, that's totally irrelevant now. I'm here with England, enjoying my football and I'm just happy to score.

"It's been a long season for me, I couldn't wait to get here, couldn't wait to get started because I knew it would be a positive one.

"It's great to get off with a win, that's the most important thing, now we've got the other games to look forward to and we go again."

Sterling – who has played 23 games for England at Wembley without losing, more than any other player – was selected ahead of Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford, but asked if he felt the need to justify Gareth Southgate's choice, he quipped: "Have I justified my selection? I'm trying!"

The winner was teed up by the excellent Kalvin Phillips, who put in a dominant performance in midfield on his major tournament debut.

Phillips completed 95 per cent of his 20 attempted passes in Croatia's half, completing 31 of 33 overall, and dovetailed brilliantly with Declan Rice.

"It was very enjoyable, really warm for a start, it took a toll on us towards the end of the game," Phillips told BBC Sport.

"Obviously a great result, very happy with my performance but there's two more group games left and I need to perform as well as that, if not better.

"I'm just laid back, that's the kind of person I am, regardless of what's been thrown at me I just try to take it in my path and relax as much as possible. If I didn't have the team or coaching staff around me to make me feel like that I don't think it'd be possible.

"I love playing with Declan, I love playing in the role where I can go forward and I know Declan is behind me backing me up in case I get beat. There's a lot of talk about me and Declan fighting for a position but when you look at it we play really well together."

Southgate added: "Kalvin is a player who is so understated, He's had a fantastic start to his international career, he was immense throughout the game, as they all were."

Jude Bellingham became the youngest player to appear in a European Championship match as the 17-year-old England midfielder came off the bench against Croatia.

The Borussia Dortmund player replaced captain Harry Kane in the 82nd minute and earned a fifth senior cap.

He made history in the Euros with his appearance at the age of 17 years and 349 days, Opta said. Bellingham also became England's youngest player in any major tournament.

Previously, the youngest player from any nation to appear in a European Championship finals tournament was Jetro Willems, who featured for the Netherlands against Denmark at Euro 2012 at the age of 18 years and 71 days.

England were leading Croatia on Sunday by the time Bellingham made his appearance, thanks to Raheem Sterling's 57th-minute strike.

Gareth Southgate's team went on to tie up a 1-0 victory in their Euro 2020 Group D opener, meaning England won their opening match at a European Championship for the first time, having previously had five draws and four defeats.

Raheem Sterling's first goal at a major tournament saw England get their Euro 2020 campaign off to a winning start, as they beat Croatia 1-0 at Wembley.

Having never won their opening game at a European Championship, England ended the wait to take a big step towards progression from Group D.

In stark contrast to their World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia in 2018, Gareth Southgate's side enjoyed a measure of control throughout, albeit Phil Foden's early strike against the upright was the closest they came until the 57th minute when Sterling broke his tournament duck.

Harry Kane squandered a great chance to double England's lead, but the Three Lions were not made to pay by an ineffective Croatia attack.

The pre-match build up was dominated by whether fans at Wembley would boo the taking of the knee, but the vast majority of spectators seemed well on side with England's players ahead of kick-off.

They were almost celebrating a goal in the sixth minute – Foden's curling effort hitting the post at the culmination of a swift attack led by Sterling.

Dominik Livakovic subsequently had to parry away Kalvin Phillips' volley as Croatia failed to clear their lines amid constant pressure.

England failed to keep the momentum up, and the malaise continued into the second half until, just as the Wembley crowd seemed to grow anxious, the breakthrough arrived.

Phillips made an excellent run to inject pace into a move that looked to be going nowhere, with the Leeds United midfielder keeping his poise to find Sterling, whose first-time finish had too much power on it for Livakovic.

Kane seemed set to make it 2-0 from Mason Mount's cross soon after, only for Josko Gvardiol to do enough to block off the England captain, who tumbled into the woodwork.

Ante Rebic and Marcelo Brozovic lashed wide as Croatia rallied, though chances going begging for Mount and Sterling at the other end failed to lift the visitors, who lost a Euro opener for the first time.

Joe Root insists lessons must be learned by his England side after they suffered an eight-wicket defeat to New Zealand in the second Test at Edgbaston.

New Zealand clinched just their third series win in England – and first since 1999 – as they eased to a win which takes them to the top of the ICC Test rankings.

The Black Caps, who face India in the ICC Test Championship final next week, did the damage on Saturday, leaving England heading into day four on 122-9 in their second innings.

Trent Boult dismissed Olly Stone with the first delivery on Sunday, and New Zealand tallied up the 38 they required to win within the hour, although Devon Conway and Will Young lost their wickets.

England do not play another Test series until August, when they host India, and Root knows there is much to improve upon.

"More than anything, it's what we can take from it. You can have bad sessions on occasion with the ball but you can't have a session like that with the bat," he said at the post-match presentation.

"That's cost us, but throughout the game New Zealand outplayed us. If we lose quick wickets, how are we going to get through that? Mentally we have to make sure we're resilient and we manage passages of play better.

"It's the lessons from watching the opposition, using the experience in the dressing room, and trying to make sure when you're in the same situation to don't make the same mistakes.

"You can look for excuses but they outplayed us, they played good cricket and we've not matched that. We know we're better than this."

England have white-ball series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan coming up, and Root is hoping a switch to a different format will offer a reset for some of the squad.

"Freeing the mind, look at the game in a different context, it can liberate you. It's the chance to go back into a different format and find rhythm," he added.

"You can never beat wickets and runs."

New Zealand stand-in captain Tom Latham surpassed 4,000 Test runs on Sunday, and fittingly clipped away the winning boundary.

"Great to have that performance, through the four days it was outstanding, with a few changes, everyone came out and did their roles. It was a complete team performance," he said.

"[England have] a fantastic attack, a lot of wickets among them. We played them really well on surfaces we weren't expecting at Lord's and here. I thought we adapted well."

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