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Gareth Southgate already focusing on Scotland after England’s win over Croatia

·3-min read

Gareth Southgate was delighted to lead England to victory in their opening match at a European Championship for the first time – but quickly turned his attentions to Friday’s clash with Scotland.

Three years on from the heartbreaking World Cup semi-final loss to Croatia, the Three Lions exacted some sort of revenge by giving Zlatko Dalic’s men a bloody nose at the start of Euro 2020.

Raheem Sterling’s first tournament goal – and England’s first at Wembley in front of fans since November 2019 – was enough to secure a 1-0 win in sweltering conditions.

Raheem Sterling, left, scored England's winner with his first tournament goal
Raheem Sterling, left, scored England’s winner with his first tournament goal (Martin Rickett/PA)

It was an ideal start to Group D but Southgate knows the challenges continue, with Scotland next up at Wembley on Friday night.

“This is the big challenge for us now because of course we’re delighted with the win and the players are happy,” the former defender said.

“It’s a positive step in terms of qualification, but one of the hardest things in sport is to come back to that point you were at before the kick-off for the next game.

“You can get a bit of a glow of the win and a bit soft, a bit puddingy when you poke your finger in the belly.

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“We’ve got to make sure that we’re ready for what is going to be an incredible game against Scotland and a huge challenge.

“We should enjoy tonight because I think you have to enjoy your wins, especially in tournaments, but focus now.

“Our first objective is qualification. We haven’t done that yet and we have a very important game for us and our fans on Friday night.”

Sterling’s goal was enough for England to get their campaign started with a victory and Southgate was pleased to send the fans home happy.

“It feels great to have been able to send the fans home happy and to have fans up and down the country happy,” the England manager said. “That’s very special.

“In terms of the game, I was really pleased with the way we settled so quickly.

“Some young players, some inexperienced international players, a big occasion – not only a tough opponent but a big occasion, a sweltering hot day.

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“Every reason to potentially look nervous at the start but they didn’t.

“With and without the ball they were composed, carried out what we wanted to do in terms of pressing brilliantly.”

England are in the driving seat in Group D, but Southgate knows complacency cannot be allowed to creep in before they face Scotland on Friday.

England turn their attention to Scotland on Friday after defeating Croatia
England turn their attention to Scotland on Friday after defeating Croatia (Martin Rickett/PA)

England will return to Wembley to take on Scotland after a few days of excited chatter and growing expectation.

“I think the pressure is what we decide it to be,” Southgate said. “We’ve talked about this as a group.

“We have opportunities to be first to do things. I didn’t realise today was our first win in an opening game, so that’s something they’ve managed to achieve that no other team has done.”

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