England 2-0 Tyskland: Gareth Southgate’s side advance to the quarter-finals thanks to late goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane
Sterling finished off a crisp England move from the six yard box, as he tucked a finish beyond Manuel Neuer from Luke Shaw’s cross, before captain Kane scored his first goal of the tournament to seal a memorable victory.
Germany’s Thomas Muller had a clear opportunity to level but missed the one-on-one when his side were 1-0 down. Germany also had the best chance of the first half as Kai Havertz slipped Chelsea team-mate Timo Werner through on goal only for Jordan Pickford to make a big save and deny the striker with his legs.
Kane spent much of the first half isolated but had a golden opportunity moments before the break when the ball broke to him in the box, but the England captain tried to round Neuer rather than striking at goal from six yards out.
Pickford tipped a fierce Havertz volley over the bar after the restart, but the second half turned into a tight and tense affair. That was until Sterling finished off a crisp England move from the six-yard box, as he tucked a finish beyond Neuer from Luke Shaw’s cross.
And Kane made absolutely certain of progress with a glancing header after Shaw found Grealish out wide and the Villa man picked out the Spurs forward in the six-yard box.
Here are five things we learned….
Southgate’s decisions pay off
Throughout the second half there was a clamour for Southgate to bring on more creativity but the England manager waited until the 67th minute to make his first substitution. Jack Grealish was the man Southgate turned to as he replaced the impressive Bukayo Saka, with Southgate backing Sterling to deliver for his country again after his two goals in the group stages. It was a show of restraint as Southgate elected to change the match in a more subtle way, with Grealish’s introduction England’s only attacking adjustment.
England and Southgate got their balance right here. With the scoreline locked at 0-0 på Wembley, many in the stadium and beyond would have called for the manager to make more changes, with Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho also at his disposal.
In the end, it proved to be the perfect move. Sterling was again in the right place at the right time to score England’s opener while Grealish was involved in both goals, including the cross for Kane’s header. Making too many changes too quickly could have been too much, and with England comfortable, Southgate saw reason by limiting his substitutions. For a manager who has often been criticised for his in-game management, this victory will taste sweet.
Kane finds his moment
It looked like Harry Kane’s struggles in front of goal at these Euros were set to continue, but in the end the England captain delivered on a night where his country needed him more than ever. After an anonymous opening 40 minutes in which he touched the ball just three times, Kane was presented with a glorious chance as the ball broke to him in the box following Sterling’s run.
It was a chance the England captain failed to take, opting to try and round Neuer rather than striking at goal with his left foot, ending a disappointing opening half in which he struggled to combine with the bright Sterling and Saka. If Kane wasn’t England’s captain and leader, he would have been the resounding favourite to be Southgate’s first substitute.
Given his performance and their options on the bench, it was a change England looked like they had to make, and shortly after half-time Southgate was given an opportunity to do just that when Kane went down clutching his knee following a challenge from Mats Hummels.
The England captain elected to stay on the pitch – and Southgate stuck with his striker. Southgate’s decision to not include Dominic Calvert-Lewin in his matchday squad suggested he was prepared to show faith in Kane no matter what, and that was proved here throughout the second half.
Southgate was rewarded as Kane scored his first goal of the tournament to put England 2-0 up late on. It could be the spark he needs.
Rice and Philips impress in midfield battle
Ahead of this last 16 kamp, the balance in the middle of the pitch that looked like it weighed favourably in Germany’s favour. Their duo Toni Kroos and Leon Goretzka, of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively, had far more elite game experience than England’s Declan Rice and Kalvin Philips. But in fact England’s often maligned midfield pair performed admirably.
It didn’t look like it would turn out that way early on. England struggled to settle in the opening ten minutes as Kroos and Goretzka ran the play. The combination of Thomas Muller and Havertz dropping deep often gave Germany an advantage in the middle and the result was England’s press was ineffective, with Goretzka having a couple of early opportunities through third-man runs.
Despite the West Ham man picking up an early booking, Rice and Phillips grew into the game, with the Leeds midfielder in particular turning up the pressure on Kroos with several strong and tenacious challenges. It proved one too many on the stroke of half-time, as Phillips caught Kroos late to pick up his own yellow card, leaving Southgate with a decision to make.
I stedet, Southgate showed faith in his midfield pair, and they were immaculate in a tough second half as England secured the win.
Werner’s struggles continue as Low’s call backfires
The headline selection before the match from a Germany perspective was the inclusion of Timo Werner in manager Joachim Low’s starting line-up. It was the Chelsea striker’s first start of the tournament, and his first for the national team since November 2020. Furthermore, it came at the expense of Serge Gnabry – who had started all 12 of Germany’s previous matches.
It was a big call to say the least, and after a difficult first season in front of goal at Chelsea, in which the striker consistently found himself in promising goalscoring positions but struggled to convert his chances, it was almost as if Low wanted to play on the narrative of Werner’s season and give the 25-year-old the opportunity to make a statement.
His movement was largely excellent as Werner looked to exploit the gaps in between England’s back-three but again, like so often this season, his finishing let him down. He had Germany’s biggest chance when Havertz slipped him through on goal but could not beat Pickford. It was an opportunity he needed to score, not only to justify Low’s selection but also to give his side the breakthrough. Could he have lifted it, as Pickford went down to his right?
It proved to be Werner’s only opportunity of the contest and he was Germany’s first substitute in the 68th minute as he was replaced by Gnabry.
No easy route to the Euro 2020 endelig
The drama of ‘magic Monday’ showed that there is no ‘favourable’ or ‘easy’ route to the final of Euro 2020, even if it might appear that England have stumbled across one here.
After prevailing at Wembley to set up a meeting with either Sweden or Ukraine in the quarter-finals, the Three Lions would then face either Denmark or Czech Republic in the semi-finals if they win in Rome on Saturday.
As paths to the final of a major tournament go, on paper it is as inviting as any in recent memory – with the remaining contenders Italy, Belgium and Spain all in the other half of the draw.
But the absence of tournament favourites France and the Netherlands from the draw is because football rarely follows the script. Both Switzerland Czech Republic proved that the underdog spirit is alive at these Euros, while Austria and Croatia also pushed Italy and Spain close in the last 16. It goes to show that there are no easy games from here – despite what you may hear in the coming days.