England vs Czech Republic reaction: 5 big talking points from the Three Lions' Euro 2020 victory

Jack Grealish
(Image credit: PA Images)

England secured top spot in Group D as Raheem Sterling's header bagged a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic tonight.

Here are FourFourTwo's five big England talking points from the match.

Grealish delivered

A nation had been crying out for Jack Grealish to start at Euro 2020, and it took only 12 minutes for the Aston Villa man to show why.

It was Grealish who provided the pinpoint cross for Raheem Sterling to nod England in front, and put in an impressive first-half performance for the Three Lions against the Czechs.

Grealish often interchanged with Sterling, sometimes playing behind Harry Kane in a central role, and sometimes popping up on the left. It was during one of those interchanges, with Grealish on the left and Sterling in the middle, that they combined for that early goal.

When Grealish was substituted after the hour mark, there were boos from the Wembley crowd, who responded by singing his name.

Saka was a smart selection

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Bukayo Saka seemed a surprise choice for this game, particularly when he was picked ahead of Jadon Sancho, but there was logic to the decision.

Saka was outstanding on the right wing in Arsenal's 4-0 Europa League win at Slavia Prague in April, when Slavia's left back was Jan Boril.

Who was Czech Republic's left back tonight? Jan Boril, and one suspects Gareth Southgate was very much aware of that

Boril had such a torrid time against Saka in the Europa League that he had to be substituted at half time, and he had yet more problems against the Arsenal man tonight at Wembley.

It was Saka whose dribble forward started the move that led to Raheem Sterling's early goal. He lit the spark for a much more incisive England performance, and was a constant threat darting down the right flank.

Pickford and the defence remain unbreached

Jordan Pickford's form for Everton has sometimes been inconsistent since his fine displays at the 2018 World Cup, but so far so good at Euro 2020.

He was solid in the opening two games against Croatia and Scotland, and made a fine save in this match. It means that England are yet to concede a goal in this tournament - Italy and Sweden are the only other teams able to say that.

Harry Maguire came back into the defence for this match, and the tournament's joint top scorer Patrik Schick was kept quiet.

Southgate's cautious side remains

Jude Bellingham

(Image credit: Getty)

After an impressive first half, England's momentum faded in the second half. In the 68th minute, Southgate opted to bring off Grealish and replace him with Jude Bellingham - an undoubtedly cautious substitution. With Kalvin Phillips, Bellingham and fellow sub Jordan Henderson in midfield for the rest of the game, it suggested that Southgate was content to hang on to a 1-0 victory.

That sort of game management might be required as we go into the knockout stages, although it's maybe not always going to win him friends among a fanbase who want to see England attack for 90 minutes.

England bag home advantage (but a tough draw)

Victory for the Three Lions meant that England won Group D, ensuring that their last 16 tie will take place at Wembley.

That's the good news - the bad news is that it currently looks likely to be against Germany or France. Group F, aka the Group of Death, concludes tomorrow and England will face the runners up of that group - Germany would be expected to win at home to Hungary, so France might need to beat Portugal to secure top spot.

EURO 2020 What would England's route to the final look like? These are the potential fixtures

Croatia moved up to second in Group D so go to Copenhagen for their last 16 tie, against the runners-up of Group E - potentially Sweden, Slovakia or Spain. The Czech Republic finished third and even they might have an easier tie next - possibly against the winners of that underwhelming Group E.

England do arguably go into the easier half of the draw, though - they can't face Italy or Belgium until the final if they got that far, and France would also be in that difficult half of the draw if they win Group F.

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Chris Flanagan
Staff Writer

Chris joined FourFourTwo in 2015 and has reported from 20 countries, in places as varied as Jerusalem and the Arctic Circle. He's interviewed Pele, Zlatan and Santa Claus (it's a long story), as well as covering Euro 2020 and the Clasico. He previously spent 10 years as a newspaper journalist, and completed the 92 in 2017.