Czech Republic 0-1 England: Raheem Sterling header secures top spot for Gareth Southgate's side in Group D - EURO 2020
|For the first time, England have gone through the EURO group stage without conceding a single goal. (Photo credit: uefa.com)|
Gareth Southgate's side advanced to the last 16 after Raheem Sterling's header gave England a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic at Wembley.
England started well, with Sterling hitting the post in the second minute as they needed a victory to overtake the Czechs and earn first place in Group D.
Jack Grealish twisted and turned down the left before lifting the ball to the far post, where Sterling nodded in ten minutes later.
As England continued to press, Tomáš Vaclík denied Harry Kane, but it was far from a one-way street.
Tomáš Holeš was denied by Jordan Pickford's spectacular save before Tomáš Souček blasted a shot millimetres wide of the target.
The tempo dropped in the second half as the two coaches made substitutions, with both teams already through to the round of 16 ahead of kickoff.
As word spread that Croatia had gone two goals clear of Scotland, dropping the Czechs to third place, substitute Tomáš Pekhart fired a shot just past the post, but that was the closest they came to equalising.
Man of the Match: Bukayo Saka (England)
What the players and managers said
Raheem Sterling, England forward: "We kept the ball better today and found the gaps well, and got the result we needed. Saka and Grealish got in the pockets really well, turned and got on the ball and it's brilliant to have players around you who can create goals. That's part of tournament football, different players for different matches. If you don't concede goals, you win football matches if you can score at the other end – and we've been doing that really well."
Bukayo Saka, England midfielder: "It was a really good performance from us tonight – we played some good stuff at times. The manager told me to express myself like I have been doing for my club all season. It was a great cross from Jack and Raheem was there for the goal – I almost got there but just not quite tall enough! It's important for us to be at Wembley, we have a lot of confidence playing here and the fans are like an extra man for us. It's a real boost for us."
Gareth Southgate, England head coach: "The Czechs are a really good side, they use the ball really well and they're difficult to break down, but there's more to come from us. We're not fluent, but we have moments when we look a good side. There's a lot of good things that we're doing and a lot of positives for us. We wanted to win the group and we wanted to stay at Wembley – we'll wait and see who we play."
Jaroslav Šilhavý, Czech Republic coach: "When Saka and Sterling sprinted with the ball, it was very hard to stop them. For the goal that we conceded, we did not cover Sterling at all. We expected early pressure and it came. England went after an early goal and scored it. We qualified with a game to spare and competed against England for first place. We have to look at it positively – we achieved what we wanted."
Tomáš Souček, Czech Republic midfielder: "We could have got more out of this. We did not start well – England dominated, especially in the first half. We improved in the second half, which was more equal, but we lacked calmness around the penalty box. We should have created more chances."