Sterling secures victory and top spot for England

England got the job done and secured top spot in their group, thanks to a Raheem Sterling winner. The Manchester City forward continues to answer his critics as he grabs another winner for England.

The Three Lions made a lively start and got things running with an early goal. But as the match progressed, the tempo slowed down, with very little chances created for either team. The win means that England will play their Round-of-16 tie at Wembley, this time with crowd of 45,000 cheering them on. However, this will be their toughest test of the tournament, so far. The runner-up of Group F awaits them – which will most likely be France, Germany or Portugal (or Hungary). Despite their loss, Czech Republic will still progress as one of the best third-placed teams, as Croatia take second spot after their win at Scotland.

Rotation for England seems to pay off

England made four changes to their team that draw against Scotland. Kyle Walker found his way back into the team and Harry Maguire lasted the 90 minutes after being out with injury. The late news of Mount (as well as Chilwell) having to isolate, as well as Foden not making the squad (to avoid suspension after picking up a yellow card), allowed Grealish and Saka to make their first appearance at the tournament. The introduction of these players, as well as the relief of pressure of having already qualified, seemed to give England the freedom to play more flowing football.

Grealish showed great control throughout the game, won fouls and got the assist for the only goal, justifying his place in the starting line-up. However it was arguably Bukayo Saka that stole the show last night. The Arsenal youngster showed no fear as he always looked to drive the ball forward and take it past players. His constant forward-minded approach is what England have been lacking in their last two games. He has certainly given Southgate food for thought and has made a strong case to be a regular in the starting line-up for the rest of this campaign.

Sterling continues his fine England goal-scoring run

England seem to have made a habit of hitting the woodwork early on during this campaign. This time a ball behind the defence from Shaw found Sterling one-on-one with the keeper. His lobbed effort came tantalisingly close to opening the scoring, but could only hit the post. However England did break the deadlock soon after. Fans have been calling for Grealish to get more game-time and this was the reason why. A dinked ball into the box from the Aston Villa trickster was met by Sterling who nodded the ball in.

England should have grabbed another soon after as Harry Maguire’s defence splitting pass found Kane in wonderful space, but the Czech keeper pulled off a fine save from his shot. Although Kane wasn’t back to his best, he seemed to be more involved compared to the previous games. Czech Republic tested England’s defence a couple of times, and Pickford did well to save a long-range effort from Holes.

Second half shows a familiar sluggish performance from England

In general, their was little to talk about in the second-half at Wembley. The game’s pace died down and England should have brought on fresh, attacking legs early on in the half. However, the game was managed well by Southgate and they kept their third clean sheet this tournament. Another positive was that Jordan Henderson managed 45 minutes. His experience in midfield could be key for when England face bigger teams. The Liverpool skipper thought he had doubled England’s lead late on, but his strike was ruled out as offside.


There were plenty of positives for England to take against Czech Republic, as they got back to winning ways. The reintroduction of Maguire and Henderson could be vital for England’s continued progress in these championships and another clean sheet shows that England’s defence is not easy to break down. Exhilarating performances don’t guarantee success at tournaments and Southgate is certainly aware of this. However, if they are to beat the big sides in the tournament, they must step it up a level. Chances have been at a premium so far for England and they must do more to be a bigger threat in front of goal. Next week will give England a bigger test of their character. If they are capable of beating the likes of France, Germany or Portugal, then surely they will be capable of going the whole way.

Author: Joel Abraham

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