Raheem Sterling’s second-half strike got England off to a winning start at Euro 2020, as they beat Croatia 1-0 in sweltering conditions at Wembley.
There had been debate about the forward’s starting role under boss Gareth Southgate but, despite some patchy goal-scoring form for Manchester City this past season, he has been a key figure for England and the local lad sent them top of Group D with his 13th international goal in his last 17 games.
In front of 22,500 fans, Sterling slotted in after excellent build-up play from Kalvin Phillips on an afternoon when Southgate’s selections paid off and England earned some measure of revenge on the side who knocked them out of the World Cup semi-finals three years ago.
Phil Foden struck the post early on as England began well before both sides appeared to slow in the heat but Southgate’s side grabbed the lead just as their visitors were gathering some momentum and saw it through without any major alarms to the delight of their returning home fans.
England’s first win in an opening match at a European Championships puts them in a commanding position ahead of their second group game against Scotland on Friday.