ENGLAND beat Croatia 1-0 at Wembley to win their opening game of a Euros campaign for the very first time.
Many were surprised to see Raheem Sterling picked to start but the matchwinner was the best player on the park while his Manchester City team-mate Kyle Walker has had better games.
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Phil Foden nearly got the Three Lions off to a perfect start but saw his effort crash back off the post in the fifth minute.
But neither team could break the deadlock and they went in level at half-time after a cagey first 45.
But Raheem Sterling sent England fans into dreamland on 57 minutes when he latched on to Kalvin Phillips’ perfectly weighted through ball and poked it past Dominik Livaković.
England held on for the win and here’s what SunSport’s Duncan Wright thought of the Three Lions’ individual performances.
JORDAN PICKFORD – 6/10
Hardly called into action in the opening half, was alert to race out to clear a poor back header from Kieran Trippier. One nervy moment in a potential mix-up with Walker when dealing with a cross, otherwise competent.
KYLE WALKER – 5
Unusual errors in control and passing in the first quarter from the experienced right-back, and continued in that vein throughout an erratic first-half. Improved after the break but must do better against the Scots.
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JOHN STONES – 6
Looked at ease with himself as the senior man in the back line, more than a match when tested for pace by an Ivan Perisic break early in the second-half. Rarely troubled though and will build on the display.
TYRONE MINGS – 7
Settled well after nervy displays in both warm-up matches, reading the game well to make a vital tackle on Perisic as he thrust into the box.
A far better display, when his selection was under scrutiny, when England needed it most.
KIERAN TRIPPIER – 6
In at left-back for his reliable defending, but committed himself to allow Šime Vrsaljko in to create opening for Croatia.
Almost caught out by a sloppy header back to Pickford – solid enough but little by way of attacking threat.
DECLAN RICE – 7
Rarely left his station at the anchor of the midfield, often only moving when Luka Modric dropped deep to snap at his heels.
Biggest test so far in international football and came through it well.
KALVIN PHILLIPS – 8
Showed there is more to his game with an excellent volley which nearly resulted in a goal, then held off three opponents at once to the delight of the crowd.
Brilliant run and pass to set up Sterling for the opener and a fine all-round display.
PHIL FODEN – 6
So unlucky to see his fifth minute effort curl onto the base of post but after a bright start he struggled to get on the ball.
Not the match for the youngster to shine, replaced by Marcus Rashford as Southgate went for pace in final 20 minutes.
MASON MOUNT – 7
Ability to take ball on half-turn added an extra dimension to early England attacks through midfield.
Whipped in a peach of a cross from the left which Kane almost turned home, tireless work rate lifted the side.
RAHEEM STERLING (Man-of-the-match) – 8
Early dart set up a chance for Foden and his pace in behind scared Croatia to death.
The most likely to create something for England and timed his run to perfection to open the scoring.
His inclusion was questioned but he answered his doubters in emphatic style.
HARRY KANE – 6
Struggled to get involved in the game after England’s bright early spell.
Linked up better as the front man in the second-half. Little threat in front of goal, will want to find more space against Scotland.
MARCUS RASHFORD (replaced Foden on 70mins) – 6
JUDE BELLINGHAM (replaced Kane on 82mins) – 6
DOMINIC CALVERT-LEWIN (replaced Sterling on 57mins) – 6
Livakovic 6, Vrsaljiko 6, Vida 7, Caleta-Car 6, Gvardiol 6; Modric 7, Brozovic 5(Vlasic 70, 5), Kovacic 7 (Pasalic 85, 6) ; Kramaric 6 (Brekalo 70, 6), Rebic 6 (Petkovic 78, 6), Perisic 6
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