England and Croatia met in the first round match of EURO 2020 Group D at Wembley on Sunday. Around 22,500 fans were said to be in the stands, and not nearly as many Croatia fans as hoped due to the Amber list restrictions in the UK. However, the few present at the stadium were loud – and the red and white checks spiced up the already warm Wembley atmosphere. It was almost 30 degrees Celcius!
The lineups were released an hour before kickoff, with no real surprises on either side given the coach announcements and training over the last few days.
England: Pickford – Trippier, Mings, Stones, Walker – Mount, Rice, Phillips – Sterling, Kane, Foden
Croatia: Livaković – Guardiol, Ćaleta-Car, Vida, Vrsaljko – Brozović – Perišić, Kovačić, Modrić, Kramarić – Rebić
The match started promptly at 14:00 GMT.
England pressed a bit in the first few minutes of the match but Croatia worked their way up the pitch in the 4th minute, with brilliant passing between Modric, Kovacic, and Perisic into the box. England had a dangerous chance in the 5th minute which fortunately hit the far post.
Sterling worked his way into Croatia’s box three minutes later. Croatia was lucky it went out for a corner. Livakovic made a stellar save in goal to keep the score equal.
England continued to threaten Croatia’s half, with the stadium on their side. An England free kick in the 16th found Kane who was in the offside position.
England was in Croatia’s box for the few minutes that followed. A shaky Croatia defense still managed to clear out anything from England, but barely.
Croatia began making their way up the pitch from the 22nd minute and maintained good possession. The ref was hesitant to award a foul on Luka Modric.
A Croatia cross into the box was headed out by the England defense, and a Gvardiol cross moments later went out for a goal kick.
Sterling shot over Croatia’s goal in the 25th minute. Another great Croatia attacking play saw Vrsaljko nutmeg the England defense and find Perisic across the box who shot wide. Croatia was looking less nervous and more like a team.
Mi Hrvati could be heard in the stands.
A left-footed Vrsaljko cross went across the box and just missed Gvardiol in the 28th minute. England was sloppy in the next few minutes, passing two careless balls out.
Luka’s fancy footwork in the midfield was a joy to watch, as always.
England finally made it back into Croatia’s half in the 33rd minute. A fab Foden touch found Walker but was fortunately miscommunicated.
Kovacic showed on the pitch his Premier League prowess, masterfully working his way in the Croatia midfield all half.
England was awarded a free-kick just outside Croatia’s box in the 41st minute. Caleta-Car was shown a yellow card. Trippier shot right into Croatia’s wall (Perisic’s head).
Gvardiol, Perisic, and Rebic were quick to attack the box with a minute to go, but the England defense remained solid. Vrsaljko cleared out their last chance of the half.
It was an uncertain start but Croatia found their footing for the second part of the first half, which ended 0:0.
The second half started with no changes for either side. Mateo Kovacic was shown a yellow card three minutes in.
Kramaric was brilliant back on defense and played a perfect ball to Rebic down the right-wing which went out for a Croatia ball. A killer Modric nutmeg found Rebic again but nothing came of the play.
Vrsaljko was hesitant to go into a tackle with Trippier who ran the ball down England’s left side. Brozovic was there to end the attack, and Modric was fouled for the Croatia ball.
Kramaric continued creating chances in the midfield, finding Perisic on the left. Luka took a shot in the 54th minute which was an easy one for Pickford to save.
A mishap in the Croatia defense saw an England through ball to Sterling who scored for 1:0 in the 57th minute. England maintained possession for the minutes that followed. Another chance for Croatia in the 60th minute went for a corner.
Croatia had a good chance in the 64th minute but Rebic shot wide of the goal.
A quick England counter resulted in a Brozovic yellow card and free-kick just outside the Croatia box. Mount hit over the goal.
A Croatia corner found Brozovic who also shot wide. Dalic subbed on Vlasic for Brozovic and Brekalo for Kramaric. England subbed on Rashford for Foden a the same time.
Croatia was dangerous in the 72nd minute, but a Vrsaljko cross went out for a goal kick. Dalic subbed on Petkovic for Rebic in the 78th minute. Dalic was after a goal with not much time left.
Harry Kane was subbed off for Bellingham in the 81st minute.
Mateo Kovacic was subbed off for Mario Pasalic in the 85th minute. A Croatia free-kick straight after was played offside.
Four minutes were added to the end of the match in which Pasalic had a brilliant chance in the final second, but Croatia was unable to score. The match ended 1:0 for England.
The Czech Republic and Scotland are also in Group D and play their first match on Monday. The first two teams in each group and the four best third-placed teams advance to the round of 16.
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