Raheem Sterling scored his first tournament goal to guide England to a 1-0 win over Croatia in the European Championship
LONDON – Raheem Sterling grew up in the shadow of Wembley Stadium as it was being rebuilt, even getting its famous arch tattooed on his left forearm.
Now playing for her country at the iconic venue, she used her right foot to give England the start they were longing for at the European Championship.
The winger’s goal – the first in a tournament in his 13th match through four competitions – gave England a 1-0 win over Croatia in their opening Euro 2020 game on Sunday.
“I always told myself … moving two minutes down the road, I have to score,” said Stirling. “It’s a great feeling to do it.”
Never before have England made a winning start in a continental tournament in their last nine attempts.
Far more comfortable than losing to Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-final, it was England’s squad full of young budding players and with Sterling, still only 26, the team’s most experienced tournament player.
Sterling, who has struggled for game time at Manchester City in recent months, found the breakthrough for England in the 57th minute. It was the vision of Calvin Phillips, one of five early England players to make his tournament debut, that produced the opening. The Leeds midfielder made challenges before releasing Sterling, who slipped a shot into the net via a touch from Croatia goalkeeper Dominic Livakovic.
The glorious moment for Sterling came two days after she was named on the Queen’s birthday honors list for her campaign against racial injustice.
But in the first England game with fans at Wembley since 2019, it got off to a sour start when players who took a knee were mocked by their own fans. This was despite pleas from the England team to respect the anti-racism gesture.
In the end there was a more unified atmosphere among the crowd of about 20,000 as fans sang the team’s “Three Lions” anthem while players applauded.
England’s next match in Group D is against Scotland at Wembley on Friday. Croatia will play Czech Republic in Glasgow.
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