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Gareth Southgate: England's opening win relieves tension

Gareth Southgate: England’s opening win relieves tension

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England boss Gareth Southgate says his side’s opening European Championship win over Croatia will “relieve some tension” in his squad.

It is the first time England have won their opening game at the tournament.

Raheem Sterling scored the only goal in front of 22,500 fans at Wembley after being set up by Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

“You know if you don’t win the first game, the pressure ramps up,” Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We have two really difficult games left in this group and we made a good step forward today, but [there are] important steps to go to qualify.

“I’m most pleased with the performance. Of course the win is important. It was a big occasion, a sweltering hot day and the players settled really quickly, used the ball well and we limited Croatia to very few clear chances throughout the game.”

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England play all three of their group games at Wembley and the atmosphere was electric at full-time as fans in the quarter-full stadium sang Three Lions and chanted “it’s coming home”.

There was also a huge roar when Southgate came across to thank them for their support.

“It’s a lovely day for the English public,” he said. “We’ve waited a long time for the beer gardens to open.

“I’m sure they’re throwing it everywhere as well as drinking it, which is lovely!”

England, who are in Group D, will face Scotland next on Friday 18 June before taking on the Czech Republic on Tuesday 22 June.

‘Trippier playing like a warrior’

There were a few surprises in the England starting XI as Southgate opted for a back four including Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier at left-back, while Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell was not in the squad.

Manchester City’s Kyle Walker started ahead of Chelsea’s Reece James, while Sterling was given the nod in place of Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish.

Asked about Trippier, Southgate said: “We felt that his talking across the back line and his ability to get out and stop crosses quickly and his experience on a day like today – alongside Tyrone Mings, who is relatively early in his international career – would be a good stabilising element.

“He is a very underrated player. People are still looking at the player from a few years ago and not at the one who is at Atletico Madrid and playing like a warrior in the last few seasons.

“He is a big part of what we’ve done over the last few years and he gave a really good performance.”

Source; bbc sports

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