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LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 13: Raheem Sterling of England celebrates with Mason Mount after scoring their side’s first goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group D match between England and Croatia at Wembley Stadium on June 13, 2021 in London, England. (Photo : Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
England, Austria, and the Netherlands got their Euro 2020 campaigns off to a roaring start as they recorded victories over Croatia, North Macedonia, and Ukraine, respectively.
Action resumes this coming Monday with Scotland taking on the Czech Republic, Poland squaring off with Slovakia, and Spain facing off with Sweden in a mouth-watering clash between two European heavyweights.
England finally won the European Championships in its 10th attempt, beating Croatia, 1-0, at the Wembley Stadium on Sunday. Raheem Sterling showed his value to the national side, scoring the game’s only goal to give all three points to the Three Lions, who avenged their painful defeat to Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semifinals.
Three Lions Edge Past Croatia
It was vindication for manager Gareth Southgate who made Sterling the most experienced player for England in this tournament despite the latter struggling for game time at Manchester City in recent months.
After only scoring once in his previous 13 appearances for Man City and England, Sterling finally found the breakthrough in the 57th minute against Croatia, latching on to a fantastic pass by Kalvin Phillips, one of five England starters making their debut in this tournament. Sterling then slipped a shot past Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livaković to score the eventual match-winner.
It’s back to the drawing board for Croatians, who had their five-game unbeaten run at the start of the European Championships ended. They will next face the Czech Republic at Hampden Park in Glasgow.
On the other hand, England will lock horns with Scotland in a much-anticipated clash at Wembley this coming Friday.
Austria and Netherlands record high-scoring wins
Supersub Marko Arnautovic helped spare Austria’s blushes, lifting his side to a thrilling 3-1 win over North Macedonia in their Euro 2020 opener at the National Arena in Bucharest, Romania.
North Macedonia came oh so close to recording a major shock after Goran Pandev scored an unexpected equalizer in the 28th minute, his country’s first-ever goal in a major international tournament.
Austria, however, finished strongly in the latter stages of the contest, scoring two goals in the game’s final 18 minutes. Michael Gregoritsch gave Austria the 2-1 edge in the 72nd minute before Arnautovic sealed the win with a late goal in the 89th minute. Up next for Austria is a matchup with the Netherlands on Thursday, while North Macedonia squares off with Ukraine on the same day.
The Netherlands also survived a major scare on Sunday as they edged past Ukraine in a five-goal thriller in Amsterdam. Denzel Dumfries scored a dramatic header with five minutes remaining to give the Netherlands a 3-2 win, their first victory in the European Championship since 2008.
Frank de Boer’s men looked to be on their way towards an impressive win after former Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and target man Wout Weghorst scored two successive goals in six second-half minutes to give the Netherlands a 2-0 lead.
However, Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine side mounted a stirring fightback with West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk, each scoring a goal to make it 2-2.
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