On an evening that was filled with thrilling scenes from a passionate Wembley crowd, England managed to book their spot in the quarter-finals of this summer’s European Championships with a deserved victory over their oldest enemy.
Welcoming 41,973 fans to the English capital, the largest crowd in the country for over 15 months, Gareth Southgate’s side put in a professional and clinical display on home soil as they grabbed a late 2-0 win against Germany on Tuesday.
In what will long be remembered as one of the most iconic evenings in England’s history, The Three Lions brought an end to a 55-year wait for a knockout tie victory over the Germans on route to securing a last-eight meeting against Ukraine this weekend.
Amidst historic scenes at Wembley, we have taken a look at the major talking points as England laid down their marker.
Sterling & Kane make history
Watching the likes of Holland and France crash out of this summer’s delayed tournament days before they took to the pitch at Wembley, England fans knew that victory on Tuesday over their arch enemy would offer them a hugely attractive route to the final.
With some shocked by Gareth Southgate’s decision to start with Bukayo Saka instead of the likes of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, The Three Lions put in a rugged first-half display in what was a cagey opener at Wembley.
However, while both Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips might have picked up first-half bookings, the 2018 World Cup semi-finalists only grew into the game and the home support went into overdrive when a free-scoring Raheem Sterling added to his tally with 15 minutes remaining.
Tapping home Luke Shaw’s squared pass on the edge of the six-yard box, the Manchester City winger recorded his third goal at this summer’s delayed European Championships and once again underlined why Southgate was right to stick with him from the start.
Battling hard and frustrating Germany in the middle of the park, there is no doubt that England fans would have been relieved to see Harry Kane also end his own mini drought as the skipper wrapped up an historic evening with just five minutes remaining.
In fact, Kane equalled Wayne Rooney for goals scored at major tournaments for England (7), with only Lineker (10) and Alan Shearer (9) netting more across the World Cup & Euros for the Three Lions.
England’s defence march on
While Southgate and England fans would have been glad to see their side score more than a single strike in a matchup for the first time this summer, The Lions’ rugged defence also deserves plenty of praise for their display on Tuesday evening.
Aside from Thomas Muller’s late chance at Wembley, The Whites recorded yet another clean sheet on home soil in midweek and they’re now the only team at this year’s delayed tournament who are yet to pick the ball out of their own net.
They are only the second side in European Championship history not to concede in any of their first four games of an edition of the tournament, after Germany in 2016. The only previous time England did so at any major tournament (World Cup & Euros) was at the 1966 World Cup.
Watching defending world champions France crash out after a stunning penalties defeat against Switzerland less than 24 hours before they took to the pitch, England now know that they have a golden chance to reach their first major tournament final for the first time in 55 years.
Next up for Southgate’s side, his high-flying squad will travel to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday night when they face off against a Ukraine side that came past Sweden thanks to a last-gasp extra-time winner.
Germany ends with a whimper
While England might have claimed their first knockout victory against Germany since their World Cup-winning run in 1966, Tuesday’s guests put in what was another sluggish display on the major tournament stage and real questions will rightfully be asked by their fans back home.
Needing what was a minor miracle as they managed to scrape past Hungary thanks to that 2-2 draw in their Group F finale last week, the former world champions failed to record a single shot on target in the first-half and ended their summer adventure with a real whimper at Wembley.
While Chelsea’s Kai Havertz might have forced Pickford into an early stop after coming back out from the interval, there is no doubt that a departing Joachim Löw will still be ruing Thomas Muller’s clearcut chance just minutes before Kane grabbed England’s second.
Running through one-on-one with the England goal, Muller could only place Germany’s golden chance the wrong side of Pickford’s post and that almost underlined what was a sluggish evening for the 2014 World Cup winners.
A squad that once again needs a real transition, despite all the talent that they have at their disposal, new boss Hansi Flick will know that he must find a way to reboot a German machine that keeps malfunctioning.
England: Pickford (8), Trippier (7), Walker (7), Maguire (8), Stones (7), Shaw (6.5), Phillips (8), Rice (8), Sterling (8.5), Kane (8), Saka (7.5)
Subs: Grealish (8), Henderson (N/A)
Germany: Neuer (5.5), Ginter (5), Hummels (5), Rudiger (5), Kimmich (5.5), Kroos (4), Goretzka (6), Gosens (5), Havertz (7), Muller (5), Werner (5.5)
Subs: Gnabry (6), Musiala (N/A), Sane (N/A), Can (N/A)
Goals: Sterling 75′, Kane 86′
Yellow Cards: England: Maguire, Rice, Phillips – Germany: Gosens, Ginter
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Danny Makkelie
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