Gareth Southgate did practically everything right. Before England’s successful debut in the European Championship against Croatia, it was little surprise that the Three Lions’ coach had not even called Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho into his squad.
But the 21-year-old did not miss a 1-0 win at Wembley Stadium. The 1–0 winner, which caused the Football Temple in London to shake for seconds, was scored by Raheem Sterling instead.
Ironically, Sterling, who was no longer a regular at Manchester City and who was allowed to storm on the wing instead of Sancho. With his decision to let Calvin Phillips, still inexperienced in the national team, play in midfield, Southgate was spot on. But the 50-year-old’s first thanks went not to his two best players, but to the audience.
Gareth Southgate thanks England spectators
“First and foremost, it’s a great day for England. We waited a long time for the beer gardens to reopen and I’m sure beer will be both drunk and sprinkled everywhere,” said the relief coach. . “It’s a wonderful day.” The perfect start to the tournament has prompted English fans to dream of a golden summer.
Sterling and Phillips played a big role in this. On the other hand, the Croatian could hardly achieve anything except superstar Luka Modric. Phillips was rarely able to stop Real Madrid’s midfield strategist, otherwise the Leeds United professional was confident of an overview and tackle strength. The 25-year-old also played a decisive pass for Sterling before going 1-0 up. On the other hand, neither Hoffenheim’s Lady Kramarik nor former Bundesliga professionals Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic attracted the attention of the guests.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic: “It makes us angry”
“We conceded a goal after a mistake and that makes me angry,” said coach Zlatko Dalic, who looked quickly ahead. “We don’t feel bad or sad, we have a right to be optimistic.” The vice-world champions will have to improve a lot, especially on the offensive, against the Czech Republic on Friday.
England will also face Scotland on Friday. And while the mood couldn’t have been better on a sunny London day, Southgate warned: “One of the biggest challenges in sport is where we were before kick-off after kick-off.” What he meant: His players should not rest on their own success. Because England is far from finished.
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