England's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring against Croatia
England's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring against Croatia Image Credit: AFP

England did it the hard way but got over the line against Croatia to get their Euro 2020 mission up and running.

Raheem Sterling grabbed the vital goal in a 1-0 win, but they did not have things all their own way.

The Three Lions came roaring out of the traps at the start as they were cheered on at Wembley by a passionate crowd of 22,500.

But after a bright start in which Phil Foden hit the post and his Manchester City teammate Sterling had a couple of half-chances, the nerves crept in and Croatia crept into the game.

However, following the break, Sterling settled the nerves with a fine finish after a great run and pass from Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips — who thrived in the London sunshine.

It wasn’t pretty but it is three points in the bag for England, and with arguably their toughest challenge out of the way in Group D, and with some of their key players to get into their stride, I am sure Gareth Southgate would have taken this result when he got up on Sunday morning.

The English fans will know they will have better games ahead, but young stars such as Foden and Phillips will give them hope. They will be eager to keep injury free as both Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham — who was given a run out in the second half — took hefty knocks.

As for Croatia, they can take heart from the fighting spirit, but they look toothless up front, and will need to be at their best against Czech Republic and Scotland.