LONDON (EFE) – England had two enemies this Sunday at Wembley, Luka Modric’s Croatia, a mirage of the great team that was runner-up in the last World Cup, and a worse one, the heat of London, which he managed to win with a goal from Raheem Sterling to get the first win in the Eurocup (1-0).
After more than 60 years of waiting, England finally won their first match. The ‘Three Lions’ took their thorn off at home, in front of more than 22,000 fans and avenging the defeat in Russia, when the Croats prevented them from enjoying their first World Cup final in more than 50 years.
England came out to dominate to the rhythm of the “Three Lions” that their fans sang. An inspiring Euro 1996 anthem that propelled the English to come out to take a quick lead on the scoreboard and stamp down an overly shy Croatia. The fast transitions of the premises, as well as the dominance from the possession, reaching 70% in the first 20 minutes, drowned those of Dalic.
Southgate’s decision to forego the defense of five, opting for a defense of four, gave them more control in the middle and the extra defense was not necessary because the Croats were not approaching. England brushed past the goal twice, with a shot from Foden, whose hair dyed in tribute to Paul Gascoigne made him easy to recognize on the pitch, and with a shot from Kalvin Phillips by Livakovic, the Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper.
But after 20 minutes of total dominance, the goal did not come. And the sun was beating down on Wembley, with temperatures in excess of 20 degrees Celsius. Not crazy for some countries, but that in England is a rarity. The heat began to play an important role and affect the rhythm of the game. England had to go down some gears and Croatia started to play more ball.
But when Croatia began to wake up, the rest cut off its resurrection. The passage through the changing rooms gave new life to England, who broke the Croatian defenses with a genius from Kalvin Phillips, the Leeds player. He came out of position, made a breakaway mark and, as no one expected, he reached the front to filter the ball to Sterling and he made it 1-0.
A maneuver that in itself was worth a soporific game and that boosted an England hitherto stranded in offensive ineffectiveness. It was worth it to win against Croatia, a selection that left much to be desired and that confirmed the predictions of its loss of competitiveness, but it will have to increase the level a lot to be able to fight against the best.
For now, at least, they are already leading Group D and will host Scotland next Friday with the peace of mind of having a win on the locker.