Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish impressed, but Patrik Schick was sub-par as England eked out a 1-0 win over Czech Republic to top the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D.
England nearly made a blinder of a start when Raheem Sterling struck the upright after being released by Luke Shaw. Thereafter, though, the game settled into a slower tempo, although England were still in the driver’s seat before breaking the deadlock as Raheem Sterling rose the highest to head in a cross by Jack Grealish, to make it 1-0.
However, on the whole, chance creation came at a premium, which meant the Three Lions only had a slender advantage heading into half-time. Post the interval, Czech Republic stepped up their efforts to get back on level terms, with Jordan Pickford forced into a fine save to deny Tomas Holes.
On the other end of the pitch, Jordan Henderson had a goal ruled out for offside. However, in the end, England held on to their slender advantage to top Group D, with Czech Republic dropping to third behind Croatia, who beat Scotland 3-1 in the other game being played simultaneously. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both sets of players.
Tomas Vaclik: 7/10
A valiant effort by Vaclik, who made a superb save to deny Harry Kane from point-blank range, but could not have done anything to thwart Raheem Sterling. Made a couple of other saves as well, all of which ensured that Czech Republic were in the game till the full-time whistle blew.
Vladimir Coufal: 6/10
A game of hits and misses for Coufal, who ought to have done better to keep a lid on Jack Grealish in the build-up to Sterling’s goal. Otherwise, the 28-year-old was fairly solid, making a number of clearances (6) while also keeping a decent passing rate of 86 percent. Alas, one bad moment would prove to be a blot on his performance.
Ondrej Celustka: 6/10
Not the best of showings by Celustka, who was found wanting for pace in the game, particularly struggling against Raheem Sterling. There were occasions when Kane out-muscled him as well and it has really set a dangerous precedent for him for the remainder of the campaign for Czech Republic at UEFA Euro 2020.
Tomas Kalas: 6/10
Like his partner at the heart of the Czech defence, Kalas was not quite at his best in this game. While the 28-year-old was not underwhelming on an individual level, he failed to keep the backline organised in the face of the early onslaught by England, although he did improve with every passing minute.
Jan Boril: 5/10
Saka literally owns Boril😭😭 pic.twitter.com/m5EIvPKpO5
— ⭐️🔴🏴 (@AzeezThings) June 22, 2021
A game to forget for Boril, who was tormented by Bukayo Saka. The left-back just could not get going in the game, and a booking in the second half means he will miss Czech Republic’s Round of 16 clash now.
Tomas Holes: 6/10
One of the better performers for Czech Republic, Holes, along with Tomas Soucek, was a part of an engaging duel with his England counterparts. Conjured up Czech Republic’s only meaningful effort on goal, only to be denied superbly by Jordan Pickford. Can hold his head up high and will now turn his attention towards the knockout game.
Tomas Soucek: 6/10
A fairly solid performance by Soucek, who offered a great deal of control in the middle of the park when Czech Republic grew into the game post the interval. The 26-year-old also came close to scoring on a couple of occasions – missing the target narrowly once while being blocked by multiple England players on the other occasion.
Lukas Masopust: 5/10
It has not been a particularly memorable campaign for the Czech Republic wingers and it was more of the same against England as well, with Masopust carrying little to no threat against a solid Luke Shaw. The 28-year-old did not muster up a single shot or create even one chance, in what was a poor performance.
Vladimir Darida: 5/10
Darida had a lot riding on him in the final third, but the Czech Republic captain was rendered to be an ineffective outlet in the final third. Did not show any adventure in the final third while also failing to complete any of his attempted crosses, which were more hopeful than accurate. Back to the drawing board.
Jakub Jankto: 5/10
A dreadful performance by Jankto, who brought nothing to the table apart from somehow playing his part in the chance that fell towards Soucek. A minor positive would be the 94 percent passing rate, but only a slight positive at that.
Patrik Schick: 5/10
After impressing in the first two games, this was a game to forget for Schick, who was left isolated due to the performance of a solid English defensive unit. Frustrated by a lack of service coming his way, it was in fact Schick who played the most key passes for Czech Republic when he needed to be set up with the chances.
Petr Sevcik: 5/10
On for Jakub Jankto at half-time, Sevcik proved to be just as inefficient in the final third as the incumbent, as Czech Republic struggled to break down England consistently.
Alex Kral: 6/10
On for Darida, Kral posed some threat with his movement into the final third, but he was wasteful on the ball, completing just 55 percent of his attempted passes.
Adam Hlozek: 5/10
Hlozek spent nearly half an hour on the pitch but was barely involved as he managed just six touches during his cameo.
Tomas Pekhart: N/A
On for Schick, Pekhart continued pretty much from where the first-choice striker had left off, as England claimed a narrow win over Czech Republic.
Matej Vydra: N/A
Introduced late on, Vydra barely had any time to make an impact.
Jordan Pickford: 7/10
A match-defining performance by Pickford, who did not really need to make many saves. However, the one save he did make essentially earned England all three points and top spot in Group D. Hardly had anything to do otherwise and did more work with his feet than with his gloves.
Kyle Walker: 7/10
Following a bit of a sub-par showing by Reece James, Walker returned as the right-back and the experienced full-back was much-improved compared to his showing on Matchday 1, keeping Jakub Jankto quiet all game long while being typically progressive with the ball at his feet. Might have done enough to earn a start in the Round of 16.
John Stones: 7/10
Retaining his spot at the heart of England’s backline, Stones continued in the same vein of form that he had shown in each of the Three Lions’ first two games. A picture of concern as he did not really look in the best of spirits fitness-wise when taken off for Tyrone Mings.
Harry Maguire: 7/10
Harry Maguire played more passes into the final third  than any other England player vs. #CZE
So good to have him back. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/ZAxmTWPlRF
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) June 22, 2021
Fit enough to start finally, Maguire replaced the impressive Tyrone Mings at the heart of England’s defence and the 28-year-old showed just how crucial he is for the Three Lions. So solid was Maguire that it just did not seem as if this was his first start in six weeks. Even played a key pass as he showed just how effective he is with the ball at his feet.
Luke Shaw: 7/10
A brilliant pass nearly set Raheem Sterling up for a fine goal early on, and Shaw seemed to be in his elements all game long. The full-back showed the desire to join in the proceedings in the final third throughout, while being typically solid off the ball, keeping Lukas Masopust eerily quiet.
Kalvin Phillips: 6/10
Phillips has not quite been at the same level he displayed in the opener against Croatia, but even when he was not in full flow, it is clear that he brings a lot of value in the middle of the park for England. Did complete a couple of interceptions but he was a little wasteful with the ball at his feet as well, which he needs to address before the Round of 16 tie.
Declan Rice: 6/10
Rice is just indispensable in the England side, and it was a wise decision by Gareth Southgate to take him off at half-time ahead of bigger tests in the knockout stages. Hardly put a step wrong in the first half.
Bukayo Saka: 8/10
Bukayo Saka, despite playing just 84 minutes, has completed more take-ons than any other England player at #EURO2020 so far .
Took his chance in the starting XI with both hands. 🌶 pic.twitter.com/5L2lL7YIY2
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) June 22, 2021
Out went Phil Foden and in came Bukayo Saka, making his first start at UEFA Euro 2020. And the attacking prospect was superb in his display and sparked the move for Sterling’s goal. Vindicated the decision by Southgate brilliantly and might have just earned a start for the next game as well.
Jack Grealish: 8/10
With Mason Mount unavailable, Grealish was given the chance to impress as the creative force for England. And the 25-year-old took little time to make an impression, providing the assist for Raheem Sterling’s opener. Continued asking questions of the Czech Republic defence all through his stay on the pitch, but it still might not have been enough to usurp the indispensable Mason Mount.
Raheem Sterling: 8/10
Sterling came ever so close to scoring early on, only to smash the upright. Sterling, though, had his goal shortly after, heading in Grealish’s cross in quite an emphatic manner to hand England the lead. Has now scored each of England’s goal at UEFA Euro 2020 and it is clear that despite his indifferent form, he remains crucial for his national side.
Raheem Sterling is the first England player to score 2+ goals at a single European Championships since Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard in 2004. 🦁🦁🦁 pic.twitter.com/0MS0p2DW4s
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) June 22, 2021
Harry Kane: 6/10
Much improved for Kane even if he still does not seem to be in full flow. The England captain did manage to get in on the action this time around and was denied by a fabulous save by Tomas Vaclik in the first half. Troubled Ondrej Celustka all game long and now has to step up further in the Round of 16.
Jordan Henderson: 6/10
On for Rice at half-time, Henderson got a lot of valuable minutes under his belt as he continues to make his return to peak fitness. Nearly celebrated his return with a goal, only to have it ruled out for offside.
Marcus Rashford: 6/10
On for Sterling, Rashford kept things simple in the final quarter of the game and did not get any chance coming his way.
Jude Bellingham: 6/10
On for Grealish, Bellingham’s introduction brought about a shift in the formation, as England changed to a 4-3-3 to snuff out the moves by Czech Republic, with the teenage prodigy completing each of his attempted passes.
Tyrone Mings: N/A
Sent on in place of Stones, Mings helped see the game out late on.
Jadon Sancho: N/A
On for Saka, Sancho made a rare appearance at UEFA Euro 2020 for England. Unlikely to start any game at the tournament by the looks of things.