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Saturday July 20, 2024

Euro 2024: England and Slovenia secure knockout berths after draw

Despite an uninspiring performance today, England advanced to Euro 2024 knockout stage as group winners

By Web Desk
June 26, 2024
Slovenias forward #09 Andraz Sporar (L) celebrates qualifying for the knock-out stages on the pitch after the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C football match between England and Slovenia at the Cologne Stadium in Cologne on June 25, 2024. — AFP
Slovenia's forward #09 Andraz Sporar (L) celebrates qualifying for the knock-out stages on the pitch after the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C football match between England and Slovenia at the Cologne Stadium in Cologne on June 25, 2024. — AFP 

England and Slovenia both advanced to the knockout stages of Euro 2024 after a 0-0 draw in their final Group C match on Tuesday.

In a match held in Cologne, England's draw ensured they topped Group C with five points, avoiding some of the competition's top teams in the next round. Despite an uninspiring performance, Gareth Southgate's squad advanced as group winners. Slovenia, finishing level on three points with Denmark, progressed due to UEFA ranking criteria.

The game saw few real chances. England controlled possession but struggled to convert this into clear opportunities. Harry Kane and Phil Foden tested Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak with straightforward saves, while Bukayo Saka's first-half goal was disallowed for offside. The crowd expressed their disappointment with boos at half-time, reflecting frustration over England's flat performance.

Despite these struggles, England's five points from their group matches were enough to secure top spot. They will face one of the best third-place finishers from Group D, E, or F in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday at 5 pm.

Southgate made a notable change to the starting lineup, opting to start Conor Gallagher over Trent Alexander-Arnold. Gallagher, however, was substituted at half-time. The match was played in warm conditions, with temperatures reaching 24C, adding to the challenge for the players.

A moment of excitement occurred in the first half when Bukayo Saka scored, only for the goal to be ruled out due to an offside by Phil Foden in the build-up. Later, Harry Kane and Gallagher missed a golden opportunity to score just before half-time.

Ultimately, England's static and uninspired play did not prevent them from securing a favourable position in the tournament. Slovenia, celebrating their qualification as one of the best third-place finishers, shared the post-match jubilation.

By avoiding a loss, England positioned themselves on the easier side of the tournament bracket, steering clear of powerhouses like France, Portugal, Spain, and Germany.

In other groups, the Netherlands, finishing third in Group D, showed moments of brilliance but were defeated 3-2 by Austria. Group E saw Romania, Belgium, Slovakia, and Ukraine all tied on three points. In Group F, the Czech Republic and Georgia were level on points, with the Czechs ahead on goal difference.