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England opened Group D with a 1-0 win over Croatia via Raheem Sterling's second-half strike, but it was Kalvin Phillips who absolutely shone - creating the goal and making his side tick.
Gareth Southgate's team had an explosive start, hitting the post inside the first 10 minutes and testing goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic. However the game became cat-and-mouse soon after with Croatia containing but not really testing England's defence.
The pattern looked set until Phillips opened up Croatia's defence on 57 minutes, playing through Sterling to score. But who else impressed - and who had a disappointing afternoon at Wembley?
Jordan Pickford 6
Patchy distribution, which is usually his strong point. However he dealt with what few shots and crosses came his way calmly and comfortably, so can be happy with his clean sheet. We're all still getting used to his new hair.
Every time there's a close up of Jordan Pickford pic.twitter.com/Tge94YdEYw
- Derek Miller (@DerekMillerTime) June 13, 2021
Kyle Walker 5
Dire first half when his every pass or cross seemed to fly aimlessly out of play. Improved in the second half when he looked defensively solid with what little attacking Croatia offered, without showing his usual attacking verve.
John Stones 6
Passed the ball with the composure you'd expect and did what little defending was required. One important block in the second half to protect England's lead, but otherwise was largely untested.
Tyrone Mings 7
Excellent. Performed very well under scrutiny. What defending England needed to do in the first half seemed to fall to him and the Aston Villa centre-back dealt with it very smoothly to silence his critics - for one match at least.
Tyrone Mings in the first half for #ENG vs. #CRO:
◉ Most interceptions (3)
◉ Most clearances (2)
A rock at the back so far. pic.twitter.com/jwZ6grMh7d
- Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 13, 2021
Kieran Trippier 6
Playing out of position on the left, Croatia definitely seemed to target his flank in the first half. One early second-half header back to Pickford nearly let Croatia in. Settled down and produced a very good second-half display, especially considering he is happier on the right.
Kalvin Phillips 8
Man of the match. 'Yorkshire Pirlo' was trending on Twitter long before his run and pass set up Sterling to put England 1-0 up. Playing further forward than he has previously for England, the Leeds United man was busy and his passing was excellent. A star-making display.
Think we need to start calling Pirlo the "Italian Phillips"
- Tom Worville (@Worville) June 13, 2021
Declan Rice 7
Performed an important role as England's deepest-lying midfielder, protecting a slightly makeshift back four. Never grabbed the spotlight but linked up well with Phillips and Mount to ensure that central midfield was England's strongest area.
Mason Mount 7
Some superb, teasing passes and crosses as he took on the responsibility of being England's main playmaker, alongside Phillips. Almost set up Kane to make it 2-0 with a ball across the box, fired one free-kick just over the bar. Oozed quality.
Phil Foden 7
Hit the post inside the first six minutes, having beaten Jokko Gvardiol like he was an egg. Lovely touch to take down Phillips' long pass. Crowd buzzed with noise every time he got the ball - a hint of what is to come from the rising star, before he was substituted.
Raheem Sterling 7
Livewire. Scored the breakthrough goal in the second half and - even in the first half when not everything he tried came off - he was always involved and looking for the ball. Missed several chances too, but scored the crucial goal.
:flag_black: @sterling7's goal gives England a 1-0 victory against Croatia#EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/UAYnEr3GsB
- Premier League (@premierleague) June 13, 2021
Harry Kane 5
Out of sorts. Worked hard but had a quiet first half as England's midfielders tended to find Sterling and Foden with their passes. Even his link-up play, so excellent at Spurs, was below-par. Crunched into the post trying to get on the end of a Mount pass and was substituted for Jude Bellingham late on.
Substitutes: Marcus Rashford (worked hard, didn't really have a chance to get hugely involved as England held on to their lead); Jude Bellingham (became England's youngest ever Euros player! Suffered a nasty clash of heads but was able to play on); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (too late to make an impact).
It's a #ENGCRO Special in the #LADbiblePoker Tourney this Sunday :soccer:- ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) June 11, 2021
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All imagery: PA Images
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