August 4, 2021

Rooney praises ‘professional’ England for winning Euros start

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The Three Lions’ all-time record goalscorer thinks Gareth Southgate’s side will qualify from Group D after seeing off Croatia

Wayne Rooney has praised England for getting off to a winning start at the European Championships in a “professional” manner.

England won their opening fixture at the Euros for the first time ever thanks to Raheem Sterling’s second-half goal against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate’s side are now in a strong position ahead of fixtures against Scotland and the Czech Republic, and Rooney believes the squad will be in high spirits after overcoming the nation that knocked them out of the 2018 World Cup at the semi-final stage.

What’s been said?

England’s all-time record goalscorer told Sky Sports: “It was a good positive start, a solid professional performance. With the heat it was never going to be an end-to-end game, it was always going to be a game of moments.

“To win that was massive, Croatia are a good team and it will give the players a relief that they are comfortable in the group now. They’ll be a bit more relaxed going into the game against Scotland and if they didn’t win they could have been a bit anxious.”

Pressed on the Three Lions’ chances of winning the tournament, Rooney added: “Scotland will be tough but after winning the game (against Croatia) I think England will comfortably go through to the next round.

“That’s when I think it could get difficult for England – when you come up against a France, Portugal or Belgium – one of those top teams.

“There’s a lot of quality in the squad, my only worry is a lack of experience – it’s important Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson get fit because they will be vital moving forward. Quality-wise they have as much as anyone in the competition and they have a great chance.”

Sterling fires England to victory

A few eyebrows were raised when Southgate named his starting XI for the clash with Croatia, as he opted to start Kieran Trippier at left-back ahead of Luke Shaw while leaving Ben Chilwell out of the squad entirely.

Jadon Sancho was also a surprise omission, while Sterling was tasked with occupying one of the forward roles ahead of Jack Grealish despite his struggles for form at Manchester City last season.

Southgate was ultimately vindicated, watching his side produce a disciplined, controlled display that limited Croatia’s attacking threat.

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