England v Serbia: What The Players Said

England v Serbia: What The Players Said
England v Serbia: What The Players Said

Jude Bellingham’s header secured a narrow 1-0 victory for England over Serbia in their opening match of EURO 2024 at the Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen.

Key Moments

  • 13′: Bellingham heads in deflected Saka cross
  • 20′: Mitrović fires narrowly wide
  • 24′: Walker pulls shot across face of goal
  • 60′: Mitrović crowded out by Pickford and Trippier
  • 77′: Kane header pushed against bar by Rajković
  • 82′: Pickford tips over Vlahović shot

Match Summary: England Starts Strong

England, runners-up at EURO 2020, began their EURO 2024 campaign with promise, dominating early possession against a defensively solid Serbia. The breakthrough came in the 13th minute when Kyle Walker’s precise pass allowed Bukayo Saka to deliver a cross from the right. The ball deflected off Strahinja Pavlović and perfectly set up Jude Bellingham, who headed it past Predrag Rajković.

Serbia nearly responded immediately, with Aleksandar Mitrović firing narrowly wide and Dušan Vlahović having a shot blocked. England, however, maintained pressure, with Saka consistently posing a threat. A burst into the area by Walker ended with a cross-shot that went across the goal.

In the second half, Serbia’s substitutes brought renewed energy. Filip Mladenović almost converted Vlahović’s low cross, while Trent Alexander-Arnold tested Rajković from distance. It took combined efforts from Jordan Pickford and Kieran Trippier to stop Mitrović from equalizing.

Dušan Tadić nearly assisted Luka Jović, but England came closest to scoring again when Rajković pushed a Harry Kane header against the bar. Pickford made a crucial save to tip Vlahović’s shot over in the final minutes, securing the win for England.

What The Players Said

England goalscorer Jude Bellingham: “The first half shows why we can score goals against any team, and the second half shows we can keep a clean sheet against any team. We had to suffer a bit but we kept a clean sheet and when you do that, you only need to score one goal to win the game. Overall, we’ll be happy with that performance.”

England head coach Gareth Southgate: “The first half we used the ball really well, had control of the game and probably should have scored a second. We expended a lot of energy in the first half, and I thought that showed a little bit in the second. We didn’t keep the ball quite as well, Serbia had to come because they needed the goal. We still had an excellent chance but I’m really pleased we showed that resilience.”

England defender Marc Guéhi: “I am very happy with the performance. It’s always hard to get off to a good start in a major tournament. The most important thing was to get the win and we did that. We need to focus now, improve and on to the next one. I enjoyed it a lot. It was a great atmosphere and I am just grateful top play with such experienced players. It is a more of a team performance and I am just glad to have top professionals around me.”

England midfielder Trent Alexander-Arnold: “I found [playing in midfield] good. It was physically demanding but when you play with the likes of Declan [Rice] and Jude and with an experienced back four behind you, who communicate excellently, they talk you through the game, so it’s hard to go wrong.”

Serbia head coach Dragan Stojković: “It was a very good match, high quality from both teams. England are a very good, strong team, but we played very bravely, the style of football we were aiming to play. With the changes, we managed to get where we wanted; control of the ball and to make England defend. I’m proud of what we did, we didn’t deserve to lose but we’re going to keep going on.”

Dušan Vlahović, Serbia striker: “We played one of the favourites to win the tournament. It was very difficult for us in the first half because we had too much respect for them. They deserve it because they’re a very strong team and their results speak for themselves, but in the second half we saw we could play against them. We were more relaxed. We could have scored but it’s a fair result. Now we must look forward and focus on our next games.”

Aleksandar Mitrović, Serbia forward: “We played well. Maybe we deserved a little more, but that’s football. We showed our threat, dominated the second half and were the better team. However, we didn’t score. The final pass was lacking, a little creativity – we usually have that. It is what it is; let’s move on. We’re going to prepare as best as possible for the remaining two games.”

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