After all the drama yesterday, on what was easily the most thrilling day of international football in quite some time, this game was always going to feel a bit uninspiring — though we certainly were hoping for a bit more entertainment than these two managed to produce over the course of these 90 minutes at Wembley.
With both teams opting for five-man defensive setups (three central defenders flanked by not-so-marauding wing-backs), chances were few and far between, with the locals’ booing of the German national anthem perhaps the most noteworthy moment of the opening period. Timo Werner managed to get in behind once, only to draw a good save from Jordan Pickford. At the other end, England almost took advantage of a cheap giveaway by Thomas Muller in the dying seconds of the half, but Mats Hummels made a great sliding recovery on Harry Kane.
Germany, who had started all three of their Chelsea contingent (unlike England, who played none), fashioned a good chance at the start of the second half, but Kai Havertz’s powerful half-volley was kept out by a strong hand from Jordan Pickford. Said contingent then combined on a great counter, but Werner was unable to get past John Stones.
Thankfully, the deadlock was eventually broken, with England able to string a few passes together and unlock the German resistance — Raheem Sterling starting and finishing the move.
3 - Raheem Sterling is only the second player to score each of England's first three goals of an edition of a major tournament (World Cup/EUROs), after @GaryLineker did so at the 1986 World Cup. Magic. pic.twitter.com/SDfOiN3GSR— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 29, 2021
Thomas Muller should’ve equalized for Germany just a few minutes later, but inexplicably put his effort wide of the post when all he had to do is pass it into the back of the net.
And Germany were made to pay for their misses when Harry Kane finally scored a European Championship goal, heading in a cross from Jack Grealish.
A game of few quality moments, but with England taking advantage of theirs, unlike Germany. That’s what it takes.
England will take on the winners of Sweden and Ukraine in Saturday’s quarterfinals, with a clear path to the final (either the Czech Republic or Denmark potentially awaiting in the semifinal).
It’s coming home?