Serbia 0-1 England: Jude Bellingham Secures Crucial Win For Three Lions In EURO 2024 Group C Opener

Bellingham England
Bellingham England

One of the tournament favorites, England, kicked off their 2024 European Championship (EURO 2024) journey with a clash against Group C opponents Serbia at the Veltins-Arena on Sunday night (June 16). Gareth Southgate fielded a formidable XI, packed to the brim with world-class players. However, it did not come together as well as many expected, with the heavyweights only managing to secure a slender 1-0 victory on the night.

Luckily for Southgate and his men, even the narrow victory was enough to take them to the top of the Group C rankings, courtesy of Denmark and Slovenia’s 1-1 draw earlier on Sunday.

Jude Bellingham Fires England Into The Lead

Owing to the undeniable quality of their power-packed roster, England started on the front foot. They moved the ball around with confidence and utilized the space down the flanks — especially down the right — to create goalscoring opportunities. Having found his groove early into the game, right-winger Bukayo Saka created England’s only goal of the game in the 13th minute.

Receiving the ball from Kyle Walker, Saka dashed down the right channel before attempting to hook the ball into the area. Strahinja Pavlovic tried to block the cross, but he could not keep it from bouncing into the area. As Serbian defenders were adjusting to the deflected cross, Bellingham flew into the box and dispatched a thumping header to take the ball beyond the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Serbia center-back Nikola Milenkovic almost got to Saka’s delivery, but the 20-year-old was marginally quicker and reached the ball ahead of him.

In the 26th minute, Walker had a brilliant opportunity to double England’s lead as he charged into the box from the right flank. The right-back did ever so well to create a shooting opportunity, but he ultimately dragged his effort wide of the goal.

Serbia Squander Two Great Chances In Second Half

Twenty minutes into the second half, Luka Jovic squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to put Serbia back level. Dusan Tadic cleverly slipped the ball through for the substitute striker, but Jovic could not take it in his stride, causing the chance to slip away. In the 78th minute, Harry Kane went for goal with a thumping header, but Predrag Rajkovic tipped it onto the crossbar to deny the Bayern Munich man.

The last great opportunity of the night fell to Juventus ace Dusan Vlahovic in the 83rd minute. Jovic controlled a cross at the edge of the box and played it to Vlahovic. The striker shuffled the ball onto his left foot before firing at Jordan Pickford’s goal. The England No. 1 reacted superbly and tipped it over the bar to ensure all three points for England.

On Sunday night, England finished with an xG of 0.53, which is poor by their lofty standards. They also had just five shots, three of which were on target.

England will return to action with a clash against Denmark on Thursday, June 20. Winning that fixture will seal their place in the Round of 16 of EURO 2024.

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