Football Features

“It’s my back garden” – Player ratings and top performers from England 1-0 Croatia at Euro 2020

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 16:20, 13 June 2021

In a hard-fought afternoon of football, England beat Croatia 1-0 at Wembley to start their Euro 2020 campaign with a win.

The game was fought in midfield and in the end Gareth Southgate’s strange team selection in defence wasn’t punished and Raheem Sterling bagged his 13th goal in his last 17 England games to seal the victory.

Here’s how the players rated at Wembley Stadium:

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England

Jordan Pickford – 7 – Had very little to do but did it well, especially one cross collection late in the day.

Kyle Walker – 7 – Defended his flank stoutly. Used the ball neatly, including the initial pass in the move that led to the England goal.

John Stones – 7 – Wasn’t really tested too much by Croatia but looked mostly comfortable despite taking a brief knock.

Tyrone Mings – 8 – Looked really assured at dealing with Croatia’s attack. They played right into his hands at the back by sending crosses in, with Mings relished the duels.

Kieran Trippier – 5 – Was decent at left-back. Not really good, but not bad.

Declan Rice – 7 – A rock solid defensive platform for England’s other midfielders. “It’s an honor playing with Declan,” said Phillips after the match, confirming how important how Rice is.

Kalvin Phillips – 8 – Absolutely brilliant. Spread the play so confidently and kept England in possession with no issues. Pushed forward and created the opening goal with an incredible bit of dribbling and then a ridiculous reverse pass through the heart of the Croatia defence.

Did not give the ball away for the entire first-half. In fact in the first hour he had more assists than misplaced passes. Has to be a foundational part of any England midfield at Euro 2020 if the Three Lions want to compete. Absolutely serious business.

Mason Mount – 7 – Shone next to Phillips, playing some sumptuous passes. Competed well as always.

Phil Foden – 6 – Struck an early shot off the post. Was not all that active after that but was full of movement.

Raheem Sterling – 8 – Dribbled by everyone with absurd ease but couldn’t use the ball well in the first-half. In the second period he was quiet but scored the opener just before the hour when he ran onto Phillips’ wonderful pass and stabbed home.

“I’ve always said that if I played at Wembley for my country at a major tournament, I’m scoring at Wembley, my back garden,” said Brent-boy Sterling post-match. “A week for taking the honours,” said the commentator as Sterling celebrated the goal and his recent MBE. Subbed off late to a standing ovation.

Harry Kane – 4 – Dropped deep a lot. Missed a superb chance to double England’s lead. Poor.

Substitutes:

Marcus Rashford (for Foden 71′) – 5 – Made some nice runs in his brief cameo.

Jude Bellingham (for Kane 82′) – 6 – Instantly got into the thick of the action, twice winning the ball.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (for Sterling 90’+2) – n/a – Came on late.


Tomorrow’s Euro 2020 games:

  • 14:00 – Scotland vs. Czech Republic: The Tartan Army will look to match England’s fast start but the Czechs are no joke.
  • 17:00 – Poland vs. Slovakia: Robert Lewandowski is finally here! Slovakia should struggle to handle the Bayern front-man.
  • 20:00 – Spain vs. Sweden: It remains to be seen how Spain handle the pressure of their first tournament without Sergio Ramos since 2004, but Sweden will miss the genius of Zlatan Ibrahimovic too.

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Croatia

Dominik Livakovic – 5 – Stood tall to withstand early England pressure. Could have done better on Sterling’s shot which was central.

Sime Vrsaljko – 7 – Struggled to handle Raheem Sterling 1-v-1 but nevertheless did a better job than many of his team-mates.

Domagoj Vida – 6 – Not great but pocketed Harry Kane well enough.

Duje Caleta-Car – 7 – Got left for dead by Phillips in the build-up to England’s opener. Redeemed himself by applying intelligent pressure to put Kane off from what was a certain tap-in.

Josko Gvardiol – 5 – Looked shaky whenever England ran at him.

Marcelo Brozovic – 5 – Struggled to cope with England’s movement. Subbed off after a booking.

Mateo Kovacic – 6 – Not at his dynamic best but still an able deputy for Modric.

Luka Modric – 8 – Dominated the middle of the match, wresting control from his younger opponents and maintaining countless Croatia attacks with simple, deft passes between the lines. Faded a bit in the last 20 minutes, but keeping him fit is essential.

Andrej Kramaric – 4 – Ineffective.

Ivan Perisic – 4 – Nowhere near active enough in harming England.

Ante Rebic – 5 – Couldn’t get into the game. Stabbed a half-chance wide and was subbed off later.

Substitutes:

Nikola Vlasic (for Brozovic 70′) – 5 – Did so little.

Josip Brekalo (for Kramaric 70′) – 6 – Added more thrust than others but still wasn’t great.

Bruno Petkovic (for Rebic 79′) – n/a – Came on late.

Mario Pasalic (for Kovacic 85′) – n/a – Came on late.