Serbia 0-1 England: Player ratings as Three Lions kick off Euro 2024 with a win

England took to the pitch in Gelsenkirchen to kick off their Euro 2024 campaign and assert a dominance over Serbia.

It was a confident start from the Three Lions, who looked to play with fluidity and style to make their mark on the international stage. Just a single goal seperated the sides, but it was enough to see England take the victory in their opening group game.

Serbia fought back hard in the second half, but were unable to hurt England’s defence.

How the game unfolded

England looked coordinated and confident from the offset, dominating possession and swiftly moving into useful positions to shut down Serbia’s early hopes.

20-year-old Jude Bellingham opened the scoring in the 13th minute, perfectly meeting a cross from Bukayo Saka to head the ball in from six yards out. The Real Madrid star became the first England player to score in the tournament, further building his case in his race for the Ballon D’or.

Serbia were quick to react and came close to bringing the game level as Trent Alexander-Arnold loss possession of the ball, leaving it to fall to Aleksandar Mitrovic – who attempted a shot past Jordan Pickford. The ball flew just wide, calming England’s nerves momentarily.

Gareth Southgate’s side continued to lead the game, dancing around the pitch looking confidence in both defence and attack. Their threat in defence highlighted problems in Serbia’s attack, as Dragan Stojkovic’s team were forced to move side to side to advance past England’s solid backline.

Serbia marched onto the pitch in the final 45 minutes of the game with much more confidence and ambition, looking to win the ball and shatter England’s lead. Southgate’s suddenly side looked nervy as their opponent grew into the game, bringing pressure as the clock ticked on.

Despite the uncomfortable nature of the second half, England managed to cling on and ultimately defended well enough with the finish line in sight. A late chance came for Serbia’s Dusan Vlahovic, but Pickford’s strong hand kept it away from the back of the net. Moments earlier, an otherwise quiet Harry Kane had seen a powerful header spectacularly turned onto the bar by Predrag Rajkovic.

Dusan VlahovicDusan Vlahovic

Vlahovic struggled in attack / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

GK: Predrag Rajkovic – 5/10 – Was challenged between the sticks from the start and throughout. The goalkeeper was unable to stop Bellingham from nodding a close-range ball into the back of the net, but made better saves later in the game.

CB: Milos Veljkovic – 6/10 – Appeared to be a strong force in Serbia’s sometimes weak defence. Kept Harry Kane quiet and tried to deal with England’s attackers.

CB: Nikola Milenkovic – 7/10 – Worked hard to mark England’s frontline, Kane especially. Confidently won challenges and allowed Serbia to push forward.

CB: Strahinja Pavlovic – 6/10 – Pavlovic was forced to put up a fight against Saka, and often dealt with the Arsenal star well. Youngster stood out in Serbia’s deep defence.

RM: Andrija Zivkovic – 6/10 – Attempted to put pressure on Bellingham but was often outsmarted by the England attacker.

CM: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – 5/10 – Made a few opportunities in front of the box but was ultimately quiet for Serbia.

CM: Nemanja Gudelj – 7/10 – Proved to be a leading figure on the pitch and kept his side’s hopes alive while he was in the game.

CM: Sasa Lukic – 7/10 – Lukic looked very strong up front and made good technical decisions to push his team forwards. Tough and fast, and played fluidly.

LM: Filip Kostic – 6/10 – The Frankfurt player had to be substituted off the pitch in the first half with an injury. Tried to shake up Bellingham in the opening stages of the game.

CF: Dusan Vlahovic – 6/10 – Had a few moments of good play but struggled greatly to link up with Mitrovic, therefore limiting chances.

CF: Aleksandar Mitrovic – 7/10 – A disappointing game from the Serbian powerhouse. Looked like he would be a nuisance early on, but was unable to make a difference and was later sent to the bench.

Substitutes

SUB: Filip Mladenovic (43′ for Kostic) – 5/10

SUB: Ivan Ilic (46′ for Gudelj) – 6/10

SUB: Dusan Tadic (61′ for Lukic) – 6/10

SUB: Luka Jovic (61′ for Mitrovic) – 6/10

SUB: Veljko Birmancevic (74′ for Zivkovic) – 5/10

Subs not used: Djordje Petrovic (GK), Vanja Milinkovic-Savic (GK), Srdjan Babic, Uros Spajic, Lazar Samardzic, Mijat Gacinovic, Nemanja Maksimovic, Nemanja Stojic, Srdjan Mijailovic, Petar Ratkov

Manager

Dragan Stojkovic – 5/10 – Made some useful substitions but was unable to crack England’s defence.

Jude BellinghamJude Bellingham

Bellingham scored for England / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

GK: Jordan Pickford – 7/10 – Had the luxury of not having to do too much in the first half, but dealt well with Serbia’s awakening in the latter stages of the game.

RB: Kyle Walker – 8/10 – Boasted immense speed up and down the pitch, forcing the opposition to try and keep up with him. When they were unable to do so, Walker continued to dominate.

CB: John Stones – 5/10 – Looked a bit shaky in the first half, and despite his experience Stones looked like a more immature presence in defence.

CB: Marc Guehi – 8/10 – Young defender looked strikingly confident in defence, passing well and positioning himself in just the right spaces. Made a remarkable clearance in the first half.

LB: Kieran Trippier – 5/10 – Similar to Stones, Trippier seemed slightly quiet in defence. Although, their backline did prove effective.

DM: Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6/10 – Set out with an aim to prove everyone wrong in midfield and made sure to do so throughout. His performance without the ball remains untested and may become an issue in England’s Euro charge.

DM: Declan Rice – 7/10 – Always puts on a show and did so once again against Serbia. His skill may have gone slightly unnoticed alongside some of his teammates, but his control of the ball was vital.

RW: Bukayo Saka – 8/10 – Saka ran riot on the pitch and looked like a real handful for his Serbian opponents. Made a perfectly timed assist for Bellingham’s opening goal and continued to pose a threat in attack.

AM: Jude Bellingham – 9/10 – Another class performance from the 20-year-old star. His early goal separated the two sides and his skills in midfield proved useful in both attack and defence – an all-round sensational player.

LW: Phil Foden – 5/10 – Seemed to struggle to find his way in the game, but did make a few useful touches. He looked to drift into a more central position, but was still unable to make noise.

ST: Harry Kane – 5/10 – Keeping himself up top rather than looking for the ball deeper, Kane hardly made any touches and instead found comfort in just running up and down the pitch.

Substitutes

SUB: Conor Gallagher (69′ for Alexander-Arnold) – 6/10

SUB: Jarrod Bowen (76′ for Saka) – 6/10

Subs not used: Aaron Ramsdale (GK), Dean Henderson (GK), Luke Shaw, Ezri Konsa, Lewis Dunk, Ivan Toney, Anthony Gordon, Ollie Watkins, Eberechi Eze, Joe Gomez, Cole Palmer, Adam Wharton, Kobbie Mainoo

Manager

Gareth Southgate – 8/10 – Allowed his team to play with a fluid system which proved useful. Could have made more changes in the second half to remove nervy players.

Player of the match – Jude Bellingham (England)

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X reacts as England start strong in Euro 2024 opener before limping to 1-0 win

England had to wait until day three of Euro 2024 to get their campaign underway, opening with a narrow 1-0 win over Serbia in Group C.

“A win is a win. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” were the words of Rio Ferdinand in the BBC’s Berlin studio after the final whistle. As he spoke, he was sat next to Cesc Fabregas, part of a Spain squad that began their victorious 2010 World Cup campaign with a defeat.

Jude Bellingham’s early goal was the difference in the end, but England’s positive start eventually evaporated and the game finished with plenty of questions, despite the win and three points.

England were typically well supported in Gelsenkirchen by fans from all over the country making the relatively short hop across to Germany.

It took just 13 minutes for Southgate’s team to take the lead and, of course, it was only ever going to be one man…

Jude Bellingham scored 23 goals for Real Madrid this past season, winning both La Liga and the Champions League. What’s one more on the summer’s international stage?

But it wasn’t just throwing his head at the ball to score the opener. He was running things.

Some lofty comparisons already.

The new man in the fray was Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi, getting his chance as a starter because of Harry Maguire’s injury absence. He certainly made sure he took it.

Bukayo Saka rinsed Strahinja Pavlovic repeatedly in the first half.

But Harry Kane was extremely quiet, staying up top rather than getting involved deeper.

Phil Foden also wasn’t hugely involved, considering the form he was in for Manchester City.

Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield was one of the main talking points coming into the tournament.

Into the second half, Serbia turned up in a way they hadn’t in the first. It was no longer easy.

Saka was much better marked in the second half, while Foden still hadn’t arrived.

As the pressure built, England sat deeper and deeper.

Southgate’s response didn’t please.

Direct service to Kane had been lacking until Jarrod Bowen came on to supply a cross.

As the minutes ticked by, Jordan Pickford was called on to preserve England’s lead.

…but the goalkeeper’s tactical role was questioned.

No Raheem Sterling and no Marcus Rashford a mistake?

Above all, though, the final whistle signalled three points for England off the bat.

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Christian Eriksen lays the ghost of Euro 2020 to rest with Denmark goal against Slovenia

Christian Eriksen kicked off his Euro 2024 campaign by scoring Denmark’s first goal of the tournament on Sunday evening, three years after he suffered a life-threatening cardiac arrest in his last European Championship appearance.

The midfielder had collapsed on the pitch during his county’s Euro 2020 opener against Finland on home soil in Copenhagen. Teammate Simon Kjaer helped save Eriksen’s life by putting him in the recovery position, while urgent medical assistance arrived and resuscitation and defibrillation began.

Thankfully, those interventions proved decisive. Eriksen, stretchered off and transferred to a nearby hospital, survived the ordeal and, in his words, was ‘fine under the circumstances’. A few days later, the player was fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), although it did mean he could no longer represent Inter, with such devices banned in Serie A.

Released by Inter, Eriksen resumed his career with Brentford in January 2022 and less than a year after his collapse was back in a Denmark shirt. He moved onto Manchester United at the end of that season and his selection for Euro 2024 marked a sixth major international tournament.

As a result, emotions were understandably high when Eriksen walked out with his Denmark colleagues to face Slovenia in Group C’s first game.

Less than 20 minutes in, Eriksen broke the deadlock with a goal of fine quality. Receiving the ball from a long throw-in, Jonas Wind deserved credit for flicking a first time pass into Eriksen’s path as he burst into the penalty area. Eriksen took it on his chest and then poked a half volley into the bottom corner, prompting scenes of jubilation in the Danish end of Stuttgart’s MHPArena.

Overall, it was a game that never really got going and otherwise lacked much quality in the key moments. Denmark enjoyed the lion’s share of the ball, yet failed to consistently test Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak by firing most of their many shots off target.

Rasmus Hojlund, who partnered Wind up front, had one of the few efforts on target but Oblak was equal to it when the Manchester United striker met Victor Kristiansen’s cross a few yards out. That save later proved to be crucial in determing the end result.

Slovenia hadn’t done much to worry Kasper Schmeichel at the other end, yet they grew into the game as time ticked by. Benjamin Sesko, the talk of so much transfer gossip in the build-up to the tournament, rattled the post from a distance in a warning sign for the Danes. Only moments later came the equaliser from left-back Gornik Janza, from similar range on the half volley.

Given how the game began and their level of control for over an hour, Denmark will consider this to be two points dropped. For Slovenia, in their first European Championship appearance in 24 years, they proved to have the capability and will take confidence going ahead.

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Gareth Southgate offers huge Luke Shaw injury update ahead of England’s Euro 2024 opener

Gareth Southgate has revealed left-back Luke Shaw could feature for England in their Euro 2024 opener against Serbia on Sunday evening.

Shaw has not played since suffering a calf injury in February and Southgate has openly admitted that including the Manchester United left-back in his squad for this summer’s tournament was a huge gamble.

The boss had previously tipped Shaw to return later in the group stage but, ahead of Sunday’s opener, Southgate confirmed he has a full bill of health to work with.

“Everyone’s available,” Southgate said. “We have a decision on whether Luke is a possible to use from the bench or not, but everyone has trained [on Saturday] and is available.”

It is unlikely that Shaw will be risked so early in the competition after such an extended period on the sidelines, with Newcastle United’s Kieran Trippier expected to fill in on the left for Sunday’s tournament opener.

Gareth SouthgateGareth Southgate

Southgate has a full squad to choose from / Richard Pelham/GettyImages

Centre-back John Stones has spent time in quarantine after contracting a stomach bug, but plans to isolate and eliminate the virus from the squad have been successful and the Manchester City defender is in line to start.

England are favourites to finish top of Group C but will be wary of a slip-up against perennial dark horses Serbia.

Denmark are next on the agenda on Thursday. Southgate will likely look to give Shaw some minutes against United teammates Christian Eriksen and Rasmus Hojlund, before ramping up his involvement in the final group game against Slovenia five days later.

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Euro 2024 day 3 predictions: England headline Sunday’s action

Here they come: the English.

We’ll be almost three days and six games deep into Euro 2024 by the time England kick-off their tournament against Serbia in Group C on Sunday night.

Gareth Southgate’s strongest XI may not yet be clear, and there are pressing issues at multiple positions, but it’s hard not to be excited about England’s chances this summer. Their recent major tournament performances suggests that silverware beckons.

England’s tournament opener headlines Sunday’s Euro 2024 action, but there are two games to enjoy beforehand to warm yourselves up ahead of the evening slog.

Here’s how 90min envisages Sunday’s games playing out.

Sunday 16 June

Phil Foden, Declan Rice, Marc Guehi, Aaron RamsdalePhil Foden, Declan Rice, Marc Guehi, Aaron Ramsdale

England take on dangerous Serbia side in Group C on Sunday / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

We jump to Group D to begin Sunday, with an unfancied Poland taking on Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands.

Both teams have been hamstrung by injuries heading into the start of the tournament, and Poland won’t have all-time leading goalscorer Robert Lewandowski to call on in Hamburg. The Dutch, meanwhile, have lost Frenkie de Jong and Teun Koopmeiners to injuries.

The Netherlands’ squad is deep and their defence may well be the most impressive at Euro 2024. In the absence of Lewandowski, it’ll be hard for this Poland side to do much damage.

There will be some English interest in the day’s second game as Slovenia and Denmark face off in Group C. Slovenia are the lowest-ranked nation in the group, but they aren’t expected to be walkovers this summer. They have one of the world’s best shot-stoppers in Jan Oblak, while Benjamin Sesko is an X-factor talent in attack.

Denmark will hope that Rasmus Hojlund makes an enormous difference after they were eliminated from the 2022 World Cup having scored just once. Still, Kasper Hjulmand’s squad will do well to match the semi-final berth they achieved at Euro 2020.

The Danes succumbed to England three years ago, and the Three Lions’ clash with Serbia rounds off Sunday’s action. Expectations remain high for Gareth Southgate’s side despite the couple of hiccups they’ve endured heading into the tournament, and anything but a victory would be a considerable disappointment despite the talent at Serbia’s disposal.

Both sides are blessed with immense attacking firepower, and given the question marks surrounding both defences, there could be a few goals in Gelsenkirchen.

Kick-off Time (BST)

Fixture

Prediction

14:00

Poland vs Netherlands

0-2

17:00

Slovenia vs Denmark

1-2

20:00

Serbia vs England

1-2

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