Euro 2024

June 26, 2024

England settle for another disappointing draw against Slovenia, top Euro group

England settle for another disappointing draw against Slovenia, top Euro group

England’s midfielder #10 Jude Bellingham (R) reacts after the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C football match between England and Slovenia at the Cologne Stadium in Cologne on June 25, 2024. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

England manager Gareth Southgate was met with boos and beer cups thrown by his own fans despite his team topping Group C as Slovenia also progressed to the knockout stages of Euro 2024 thanks to a 0-0 draw in Cologne.

The Three Lions were already assured of a place in the last 16 but can expect more criticism after failing to improve on underwhelming performances in edging past Serbia and drawing with Denmark.

“I get it that they are not happy with me, that is the reality. I am not going to back away from that. I need them behind the team,” Southgate said of the supporters’ reaction.

“I was not going to back away from going over to thank people for coming and giving the support that they did, but I know that this is causing an issue for the group.”

England will have to wait until Wednesday’s final group games to find out which of the four best third-placed teams they will face in the last 16.

But more questions will be asked over one of the favourites’ ability to end a 58-year wait for major tournament glory as a star-studded forward line was snuffed out by Slovenia.

“I thought we played a lot better than the other games. We couldn’t just find that finish but we look forward to the next one,” said England captain Harry Kane.

Southgate made a statement with his team selection, resisting the calls to make mass changes as Conor Gallagher replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold in the only alteration from the opening two games.

If the England boss was looking for a reaction by showing faith in the other 10 who have started all three matches in Germany, he was left disappointed.

Slovenia are now nine games unbeaten, which included beating Portugal 2-0 in a pre-tournament friendly.

Declan Rice had highlighted Benjamin Sesko as their big threat on Monday.

Sesko could have been lining up alongside Rice at Arsenal next season had he not shunned interest to extend his contract at RB Leipzig.

The 21-year-old shrugged off a thigh injury to start and had the first chance of the game when he tamely headed straight at Jordan Pickford four minutes in.

Slovenian celebrations –
It took 20 minutes for England to pose a serious threat and only the offside flag denied them a slick opening goal.

Rice picked out Phil Foden’s run but the Manchester City midfielder had strayed beyond the Slovenian defence before squaring for Bukayo Saka to tap in.

Southgate took action at the break as Gallagher was replaced by Kobbie Mainoo.

The 19-year-old added some much needed thrust to the England midfield but they still struggled to turn dominance in possession into chances.

Kane saw a header cleared by Sesko from a corner and Rice flashed a shot wide from the edge of the box.

Southgate answered the call to give Cole Palmer his first minutes of the tournament in the final 20 minutes.

The Chelsea midfielder, who scored 26 goals at club level this season, had England’s only shot on target of the second half but failed to seriously test veteran goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

A point was jubilantly celebrated by the Slovenians as it did enough for them to progress as one of the best third-placed sides thanks to three draws from their three games.

Matjaz Kek’s men missed out on second place in the group solely due to Denmark’s better disciplinary record.

“I didn’t expect to be going into the knockout phase,” said Kek. “But we showed with our play we deserved to be here and go into the knockouts against one of the favourites for the tournament.”

Vanguard News