• Monday, July 15, 2024
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BusinessDay

Euro 2024: England secure top place in Group C

England coach Gareth Southgate

England stumbled to a 0-0 draw with Slovenia in Cologne, but the result was sufficient for them to win Group C at Euro 2024.

Bukayo Saka had a goal disallowed due to an offside call against Phil Foden. Despite a lacklustre performance, England managed their first shot only in the 30th minute, with Harry Kane’s attempt from Kieran Trippier’s cross being the closest they came to scoring.

Already assured of a place in the last 16, England can expect criticism for their uninspiring performances throughout the group stage, having narrowly beaten Serbia and drawn with Denmark.

Manager Gareth Southgate made only one change from the side that struggled against Denmark, introducing Conor Gallagher for Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield. However, the Chelsea player failed to make a significant impact.

England will await the conclusion of Wednesday’s final group games to learn which of the four best third-placed teams they will face in the knockout stages.

England’s performance has raised questions about their capability to end a 58-year drought for major tournament glory, as their star-studded forward line was effectively neutralised by Slovenia.

“That was the aim before the start of the tournament: come top of the group and control our destiny,” said England captain Harry Kane. “I thought we played a lot better than in the other games. We couldn’t just find that finish, but we look forward to the next one.”

Southgate’s decision to stick with 10 of the 11 starters from the previous matches, aside from replacing Alexander-Arnold with Gallagher, did not yield the hoped-for reaction. Slovenia, now nine games unbeaten, demonstrated their resilience, including a notable 2-0 victory over Portugal in a pre-tournament friendly.

Benjamin Sesko nearly put Slovenia ahead early but his header was saved by Jordan Pickford. Sesko, who turned down a move to Arsenal to stay with RB Leipzig, showcased his potential despite a recent thigh injury.