England vs Germany now on the card as Three Lions top group in Euro 2020
LONDON: England clinched first place in Euro 2020 Group D with a 1-0 win against the Czech Republic, while Luka Modric’s rocket-propelled Croatia into the last 16 as their 3-1 victory over Scotland eliminated their Covid-hit opponents on Tuesday.
Already assured of playing in the last 16, England made certain that the knockout tie will be played in front of their own fans at Wembley thanks to Raheem Sterling’s first-half winner against the Czechs.
England will face the second-placed team in Group F on June 29, with France, Germany, Portugal or Hungary all potential opponents.
Having started Group D by narrowly beating Croatia 1-0 before being booed off after a drab 0-0 draw against Scotland, England produced a slightly more cohesive display against the Czechs.
There remains much for Southgate’s men to work on, but England coped efficiently after a disrupted build-up that saw Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell forced into self-isolation after Scotland’s coronavirus woes.
“We changed what we were doing overnight because of the change in personnel, so it is a huge credit to the players,” Southgate said.
“There is more to come from us yet. We are not fluent but we have moments where we look a good side.”
Southgate selected Jack Grealish to replace Mount and the Aston Villa midfielder provided a spark as his perfectly-flighted cross to the far post was headed in by Sterling in the 12th minute.
Arsenal’s 19-year-old winger Bukayo Saka, also given a surprise start by Southgate in place of Phil Foden, added pace and invention to the England attack.
But England couldn’t find a killer second as Harry Kane’s Euro goal drought extended to three games.
Kane was brilliantly denied by Tomas Vaclik’s first-half save as he finally had his first shot on target in the tournament.
The Tottenham striker played the full 90 minutes for the first time in the tournament, but once again was a shadow of the player who finished as the Premier League’s top scorer this season.
Southgate will take heart from England’s solid defence.
They have yet to concede a goal in the tournament, with Harry Maguire returning from ankle ligament damage to partner John Stones in central defence and shutting out the Czechs.
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