Group D was the sole focus of match-day 12 at UEFA Euro 2020, with all four teams still alive in the running to advance to the next round.
Wembley Stadium and Hampden Park once again played host to the teams in this group. While there was considerably more action in one fixture than the other, the tension was present in both stadiums up until the final whistle.
Three teams were able to punch their ticket to the Round of 16. Here’s how it happened:
England 1, Czech Republic 0
Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka made their first starts for England at the Euros in this match, as did Harry Maguire who returned to the heart of the Three Lions’ defense after recovering from injury. England started quickly in the 2nd minute when Luke Shaw looped a ball over the top on the left for Raheem Sterling to chase into the box, but the winger’s chip just hit the far post and was cleared.
The home team would take the lead in the 12th minute when Grealish chipped a ball from the left to the back post, where Sterling was able to drift open to head it home. Harry Kane almost made it two in the 26th minute when he was played into the box by Maguire, but goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík just got his left palm to it. The Czech’s first chance came a few minutes later when Tomáš Holeš tested goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from long range, but he was able to make a diving stop.
The second half offered very little action with neither side able to come up with a shot on target. Substitute Jordan Henderson thought he had scored for England in the 86th minute after intercepting a Czech Republic pass in the six-yard box, but he was offside. Both teams were happy to see out the match knowing that qualification had been achieved.
England took the top spot in Group D having kept a clean sheet in all three of their matches. They will face one of teams that makes it out of Group F next. With the loss, the Czech Republic fell to third place in the group and will have to see which group winner they will face.
Croatia 3, Scotland 1
Both teams came into the match knowing that a draw or loss would eliminate them from the Euros. Scotland put early pressure on Croatia with a couple of corners, but they were able to deal with them. The first shot on target of the match would double as the opening goal in the 17th minute when Croatia’s Ivan Perišić out-jumped his marker at the back post to head a ball back into the middle, where Nikola Vlašic was waiting to guide a shot into the near corner of the net.
Scotland were close to equalizing in the 24th minute when their high press turned Croatia over and John McGinn sent an effort trickling towards the left corner, but goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic got over to grab it. Scotland’s goalless drought at Euro 2020 ended a few minutes before halftime however when Croatia failed to clear a cross into the box and Callum McGregor was there to smash home his effort into the bottom left corner from 20 yards out.
Joško Gvardiol of Croatia had the first chance of the second half when he was expertly played in on goal by Marcelo Brozovic, but goalkeeper David Marshall was quick off his line to stop him. They would go ahead in the 62nd minute when Mateo Kovacic would square a ball for Luka Modric just outside of the box and the star midfielder would hit it with the outside of his right foot and send it twisting into the top left corner.
Scotland were forced to push forward knowing they needed to come up with two goals, but they couldn’t create anything before Croatia had the ball in the back of the net again, with Perišić beating his man to the near post and executing a perfect glancing header off the inside of the far post and in from a corner. A Ché Adams attempt from a difficult angle was all Scotland could muster before the final whistle blew.
The win, plus the Czech Republic’s loss vs. England, were enough to see Croatia jump into second place on goal difference and they will next the face the runner-up of Group E. Scotland have still yet to advance past the group stage of a major tournament in their country’s history.
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