Sebia 0-1 England
Game 6 – 16th June 2024

England Grind Out Crucial Win Over Stubborn Serbia

England kicked off their Euro 2024 campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, but it was a performance that left more questions than answers for Gareth Southgate’s side.

The match began with England seizing the initiative, dominating possession and pinning Serbia back in their own half. Their early pressure paid dividends in the 13th minute when Jude Bellingham rose highest to power home a header from Bukayo Saka’s deflected cross[1][4][5]. It was a moment of magic from England’s young talisman, who continues to deliver on the biggest stages.

With the lead secured, England looked to kick on and put the game to bed. Kyle Walker went close with a fizzing cross-shot that fizzed narrowly wide, while Harry Kane had a couple of half-chances that he couldn’t quite convert.

However, as the first half wore on, Serbia began to grow into the game. Their defensive shape remained resolute, frustrating England’s attacking forays. Aleksandar Mitrovic had a penalty appeal waved away after a tangle with Kieran Trippier, much to the Serbian’s frustration.

The second half was a different story entirely. Serbia came out with renewed vigor, pressing higher up the pitch and forcing England onto the back foot. Dusan Tadic and Luka Jovic were introduced from the bench, injecting fresh impetus into the Serbian attack.

England, by contrast, looked increasingly leggy and devoid of ideas. Gareth Southgate was slow to make changes, with his substitutions coming too late to stem the Serbian tide. Jordan Pickford was called into action on multiple occasions, producing a stunning save to deny Dusan Vlahovic’s powerful header.

As the clock ticked down, England were hanging on for dear life. Harry Kane thought he had sealed the win when his header from Jarrod Bowen’s cross was brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Predrag Rajkovic. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic also went close with a long-range effort that whistled past the post.

In the end, England’s early goal proved enough to secure all three points, but it was a performance that will concern Southgate. His side looked disjointed and lacking in creativity for large periods, struggling to impose their game on a well-drilled Serbian outfit.

Jude Bellingham: The Shining Light

In a match where few England players truly shone, Jude Bellingham was the standout performer. The 20-year-old Real Madrid midfielder was a constant driving force, dictating the tempo and providing the creative spark that was so often lacking from his teammates.

Bellingham’s goal was a moment of pure class, timing his run to perfection and generating incredible power on his header[4]. But it was his all-round performance that caught the eye. He covered every blade of grass, breaking up Serbian attacks and launching England’s forays forward with his incisive passing and intelligent movement.

Pundits and fans alike were quick to heap praise on the young midfielder, with many tipping him to be a key figure for England throughout the tournament. Gary Lineker described Bellingham as “phenomenal,” while Alan Shearer hailed his “talent and composure”[1].

If England are to go deep in Euro 2024, they will need Bellingham to maintain this level of performance. He is quickly emerging as the heartbeat of this team, and his influence will be crucial in the matches to come.

Serbia’s Resilience

While England will be disappointed with their overall display, credit must go to Serbia for their resilience and tactical discipline. Mladen Krstajic’s side executed their game plan to near perfection, frustrating England with their compact defensive shape and looking to hit them on the counter-attack.

Aleksandar Mitrovic led the line with his usual blend of physicality and tenacity, providing a focal point for Serbia’s attacks and causing problems for the English defense. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Dusan Tadic pulled the strings in midfield, probing for openings and keeping Serbia on the front foot in the second half.

While they ultimately came up short, Serbia’s performance will give them confidence heading into their remaining group games against Denmark and Slovenia. If they can maintain this level of organization and intensity, they will fancy their chances of progressing to the knockout stages.

England’s Tactical Conundrum

For Gareth Southgate, this match will have raised more questions than answers. His decision to deploy Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield was a bold one, but it failed to pay dividends as the Liverpool man struggled to influence proceedings from his deeper role.

England’s lack of creativity and cutting edge in the final third was a cause for concern. Harry Kane cut an isolated figure for large periods, starved of service and forced to drop deeper in search of the ball. Phil Foden, so often a spark for England, was anonymous on the left flank, while Bukayo Saka faded after a bright start.

Southgate’s reluctance to make changes also drew criticism, with his substitutions coming too late to stem the Serbian tide. The introduction of Jarrod Bowen did provide a brief injection of energy, but it was too little, too late.

As England look ahead to their remaining group games against Denmark and Slovenia, Southgate will need to find solutions to these tactical issues. A more adventurous approach may be required, with the likes of Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford potentially providing the creative spark that was so sorely lacking against Serbia.

In the end, England will be relieved to have secured all three points in their Euro 2024 opener. A win is a win, and Southgate’s side have given themselves a solid platform to build upon in Group C.

However, the performance itself will have done little to allay concerns about England’s ability to go deep in this tournament. They looked disjointed and lacking in ideas for large periods, relying on moments of individual brilliance from Jude Bellingham and Jordan Pickford to see them through.

As the competition progresses, England will need to find a more cohesive and consistent level of performance. Tougher tests lie ahead, and Southgate will need to find the right tactical formula to unlock his side’s full potential.

For now, though, the focus will be on securing qualification for the knockout stages. With Denmark and Slovenia still to come, England have given themselves a solid platform to build upon. But they will need to improve if they are to fulfil their ambitions of lifting the Euro 2024 trophy.


Q1: What was the final score of the match between Serbia and England?
A1: England beat Serbia 1-0 in their Euro 2024 Group C opener.

Q2: Who scored the winning goal for England?
A2: Jude Bellingham scored the only goal of the game with a powerful header in the 13th minute.

Q3: How did Serbia perform in the match?
A3: Serbia put in a resilient and well-organized defensive performance, frustrating England for large periods and creating several chances to equalize in the second half.

Q4: What were the main concerns for England after the match?
A4: England looked disjointed and lacking in creativity for large periods, struggling to break down Serbia’s compact defense. Gareth Southgate’s tactics and substitutions were also called into question.

Q5: Who was England’s standout performer in the match?
A5: Jude Bellingham was widely praised as England’s best player, scoring the winning goal and providing a driving force from midfield with his energy, passing, and intelligent movement.

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