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Euro 2020: Sterling finds crucial winner for England against Croatia

England have exacted their 2018 World Cup loss to Croatia with a narrow 1-0 win in their first match of Euro 2020.

Fans at Wembley stadium were boisterous and got behind the Three Lions as the game of champions seemed destined for a stalemate as both sides were only barely split down the middle on all counts from shots, to fouls and passing.

England kicked off and maintained a very high pace game from the opening whistle and looked to be the side more likely to score, but failed to convert their chances early on, doing very little to threaten the Croatian defensive pairing of Duje Caleta-Car and Domagoj Vida.

Kalvin Phillips put in a tireless shift for England, and threatened the Croatian goal from distance but Livakovic was up for the challenge. Croatia were forced to contend with England's high pressure game and seemed a bit lost when they had possession of the ball in the first half.

Unlike their campaign that saw them make the 2018 World Cup final, Croatia had to try and counter attack England's forward pressure but were inefficient with their early chances, Ante Rebic registering the only shot on target in the first half for the Croatians in the 6th minute.

England's pressure paid off in the second half as a beautifully worked team play saw Raheem Sterling break the deadlock at the 57th minute, assisted by Kalvin Phillips. England's pinpoint passing was enough to exploit the gap between Vida and Caleta-Car as Sterling's shot squeezed between the gloveman and the near post.

The remainder of the game saw very little budge between both sides, Luka Modric played uncharacteristically deeper in midfield which in turn resulted in fewer attacking opportunities than Croatia would have preferred.

England's performance was far from their best, though it was good enough to get past their first test in Croatia. Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Sterling all caused some havoc but should the Three Lions wish to progress with real intent it's imperative to get Harry Kane involved in the play.

Nonetheless, England have gotten off to a winning start at Euro 2020, and they'll face neighbouring Scotland in their next fixture, while Croatia will have to go back to the drawing board before taking on the Czech Republic.

EURO 2020 – Group Stage

Croatia – 0

England – 1 (Sterling 57')

Wembley Stadium, London

Man of the match: Kalvin Phillips, ENG

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Chris Sermeno

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