Euro 2020: England enter quarter-finals, Sterling scores first and Kane doubles the lead

They didn’t require the second goal in the end. For the larger portion of the four matches in this European Championship campaign which were played at Wembley, England didn’t seem capable of anything more than a good old eke or a 1-0 win. But when it finally came in the 86th minute against Germany, it was captain Harry Kane who found his head at the end of it putting the naysayers to rest.

The fact that Kane, the World Cup Golden Boot winner in Russia, had failed to score in this Euro was well publicized. Even as Germany’s World Cup-winning captain, Joachim Loew, bowed out of international football, England manager Gareth Southgate would have sighed with relief when he finally broke the drought, thanks to a counter-attacking move made possible by Jack Grealish (who came off the bench in the second half).

Even before the first ball was kicked at Wembley on Tuesday, much was made of England’s starting eleven which reeked of defensiveness. Not only were Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier moonlighting as wingbacks but Southgate’s other two midfielders Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice were conservative picks as well (each of Mason Mount, Phil Foden, and Grealish were missing).

England pushed ahead more than expected for a formation like this. But, understandably, Germany commanded play in the early stages, with Leon Goretzka making an early run for Jordan Pickford, only to be hacked down by Rice. Later, Chelsea’s Kai Havertz would unleash Chelsea’s Timo Werner into clear space, but Werner fluffed his lines, as was often the case in London during the previous season.

Sterling, who was unbelievably the only man to score for England in the group stages, had the first shot on target when he curled one into Manuel Neuer’s gloves, which came as no surprise. But it wasn’t until the very last minute of the half that Kane’s team got their first serious chance, courtesy of the captain himself. Sterling forcefully slipped into his assist to Kane on his left after intercepting a bad pass from Thomas Mueller not far from the edge of Germany’s penalty box. Kane’s initial touch was heavy, but as he attempted a second chomp in front of goal, Hummels stepped in with the clearance, and the first half concluded exactly as the chosen combination had predicted, with a nil-nil score.

The entrance of Grealish transformed the whole nature of England’s tactics. In the 69th minute, the Aston Villa midfielder came on to replace Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, and he had an immediate impression. Grealish was involved in the first goal, but he did not initiate the move towards the goal. Sterling, the goal scorer found Kane near the box who played it left to Grealish.

Grealish was given the wingback in Shaw to hurtle forward, from whence he tapped the easiest of assists to Sterling, who scored his third goal of the Euro campaign, eliciting a shout from the supporters, including from Prince William. It nearly took the wind out of Germany’s sails before Kane delivered the final blow.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up here to get the latest news delivered directly to your inbox.
You can unsubscribe at any time