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Czech Republic 0-1 England: Sterling seals group supremacy

Sterling goal

England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 1 Czech 🇨🇿 0

London, UK | THE INDEPENDENT | Raheem Sterling’s early header proved enough to earn England a victory against the Czech Republic at Wembley that took Gareth Southgate’s side into the round of 16 as Group D winners.

Needing to win to overtake the Czechs and claim first place in Group D, England began positively with Sterling lobbing against the post as early in the second minute. Ten minutes later he did have his goal, Jack Grealish twisting and turning down the left before lifting the ball to the far post where Sterling nodded in.

Harry Kane was then denied by Tomáš Vaclík as England continued to press, but it was by no means one-way traffic, Jordan Pickford’s flying stop denying Tomáš Holeš before Tomáš Souček whipped a shot centimetres wide of the target.

With both sides already through to the round of 16 ahead of kick-off, the tempo dropped in the second half as the two coaches made changes. As news filtered through of Croatia going two goals clear of Scotland, pushing the Czechs down into third place, substitute Tomáš Pekhart flashed a shot just past the post but that was as close as they came to an equaliser.

In the other group match, goals from Nikola Vlašić, Luka Modrić and Ivan Perišić ensured Croatia’s victory to clinch second spot in Group D and secure their place in the round of 16, as Scotland bow out of the tournament.

Both sides needed a win to take them through to the round of 16, and minutes in, John McGinn’s searching cross fell just out of Che Adams’ reach to set up a captivating must-win contest.

Croatia were first to strike in the 17th minute, when Bruno Petković cushioned down Josip Juranović’s floated cross for Nikola Vlašić to squeeze inside David Marshall’s bottom corner.

Luka Modrić looked to double as Croatia found their rhythm, but Scotland’s high pressing paid dividends, as a scuffed Croatian clearance reached Callum McGregor, who drilled home to restore parity.

Knowing a draw would send both sides home, there was no let up in the second half and the action-packed decider continued. On 62 minutes, Croatia took the lead again, this time Modrić’s stunning outside-of-the-boot curler beat Marshall. Late on, the Vatreni added an extra sheen to the scoreline as Ivan Perišić glanced home from a corner to complete the victory and secure their passage to the knockout stage.

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