Czech Republic 0-1 England
England progressed to the European Championship knockout phase as group winners thanks to Raheem Sterling’s early header in a 1-0 victory against the Czech Republic.
Having kicked off Group D by beating World Cup semi-final foes Croatia and then been booed off following the goalless draw with rivals Scotland, Gareth Southgate’s already-qualified side put in a controlled display on Tuesday.
Sterling headed home fan favourite Jack Grealish’s cross to seal a narrow win against the Czechs at Wembley, where England will return next Tuesday for a last-16 tie against France, Germany, Portugal or Hungary.
Facing the runners-up in the so-called group of death looks a tough ask but there is a lot to be said for home comforts – plus facing underdogs at the Euros does not always go well, such as Iceland five years ago.
There remains plenty for Southgate’s men to improve on after Tuesday’s hard-fought victory, but England reacted well to a disrupted build-up that saw Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell forced into isolation.
The fallout to their interaction with Scotland’s Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for Covid-19, will rumble on, but Mount’s replacement Grealish impressed – as did fellow tournament full debutant Bukayo Saka.
The fearless pair were involved in the winning goal under the arch, where Sterling bounced back from hitting a post in the opening stages to head home Grealish’s 12th-minute cross.
There were some nervy moments when the Czechs settled and Harry Kane’s wait for his first Euros goal continues, but England professionally saw out a forgettable second half to wrap up qualification without conceding.