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Serbia national football team
European Championship | Group Stage
Jun 16, 2024 at 8pm UK
VELTINS-Arena
England national football team

Serbia
0 - 1
England


Gudelj (39'), Tadic (75'), Stojkovic (83')
FT(HT: 0-1)

Live Commentary: Serbia 0-1 England - as it happened

England kick off their Euro 2024 campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Group C rivals Serbia at the Veltins-Arena.
2

England got off to a winning start in Euro 2024 Group C as Gareth Southgate's men eked out a nerve-jangling 1-0 win over Serbia at the Veltins-Arena.

The Three Lions were a class above the Eagles in the first half and deservedly went ahead through a powerful Jude Bellingham header, although they allowed Serbia back into the game afterwards.

Dusan Vlahovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic both went close for Dragan Stojkovic's side, but England successfully bolted the back doors shut and came agonisingly close to doubling their lead when Harry Kane's header was pushed onto the crossbar by Predrag Rajkovic.

Thanks in no small part to stellar performances from Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Marc Guehi, England have quickly risen to the top of Group C, while Serbia sit bottom of the section, one point below Slovenia and Denmark following their earlier draw.


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Good evening everyone! Thank you all very much for joining us for the start of England's latest quest for an elusive major trophy, as the Three Lions prepare to battle Serbia in their opening Euro 2024 Group C tie.

Since coming out second best to Italy's penalty supremacy in 2021, Gareth Southgate's men have witnessed the women's team conquer the continent at Euro 2022, a few months before their quarter-final World Cup exit.

But a word on Serbia, who are playing at the European Championships for the first time as an independent nation and certainly possess the tools to deal England's football's-coming-home aspirations an early blow.

With just an hour to go until kickoff, time for a look at the team news...


SERBIA XI: Rajkovic; Veljkovic, Milenkovic, Pavlovic; Zivkovic, S. Milinkovic-Savic, Gudelj, Lukic, Kostic; Vlahovic, Mitrovic

SUBS: V. Milinkovic-Savic, Petrovic, Stojic, Maksimovic, Jovic, Tadic, Babic, Mijailovic, Ilic, Ratkov, Samardzic, Gacinovic, Spajic, Mladenovic, Birmancevic


ENGLAND XI: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Guehi, Trippier; Alexander-Arnold, Rice; Saka, Bellingham, Foden; Kane
SUBS: Ramsdale, Henderson, Shaw, Konsa, Gomez, Dunk, Gallagher, Toney, Gordon, Watkins, Eze, Palmer, Bowen, Wharton, Mainoo

Well... we would brag about getting our England predicted lineup bang on, but there were no real doubts about this XI were there?

As expected, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka return, while Trent Alexander-Arnold gets the nod in midfield alongside Declan Rice. Big call from Southgate, but the right one?


Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates scoring for England on June 3, 2024© Reuters

His performance against Bosnia-Herzegovina would certainly suggest so. Scored an incredible volley in that game, but THAT switch of play to Jack Grealish...

Conor Gallagher, Adam Wharton and Kobbie Mainoo must wait their turn. Not half-bad options to bring off the bench.


Further forward, Bellingham's return at number 10 means that Phil Foden is shifted out to the left flank, but expect to see the Premier League's Player of the Season pop up everywhere in the final third.

Now, time to run down all the records that captain Harry Kane is 50 minutes away from breaking...


England's Harry Kane during training on June 11, 2024© Reuters

By appearing tonight, Kane will set new records for the most England appearances at the men's Euros (12), the most major tournaments as Three Lions captain (four) and the most major tournament appearances for a male England player (23).

In all truth, individual records are bread and butter for the 30-year-old at this point. But a team trophy...


As good as England's offence are - even though they did not show it against Iceland - solid defensive foundations will be the bedrock of any run to glory this summer.

With Harry Maguire absent, John Stones and Marc Guehi unsurprisingly pair up at the back in front of Jordan Pickford. The former gave England a scare when he came down with a cold last week but was successfully quarantined to his room.

Throwback to the self-isolation era there.


Stones and Guehi may have their work cut out for them though... Serbia boss Dragan Stojkovic has made a very bold attacking call.

Only one of Dusan Vlahovic or Aleksandar Mitrovic was expected to start Sunday's game. Red herring alert. Both are in the XI.


No Serbian man has scored more goals from the national team than Mitrovic's 58. Five of those came in qualifying, the most in the Eagles' section.

For those wondering how he has done since leaving Fulham... just the 40 goals in his first 43 games for Al-Hilal.


Acting as the creator-in-chief for Serbia will be Mitrovic's Al-Hilal teammate Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, forever linked with a move to the Premier League while pulling the strings at Lazio.

With the midfield maestro starting, there is no room in the XI for all-time caps leader Dusan Tadic. His Ajax days will never be forgotten. Still as classy as ever at Fenerbahce.


Stojkovic may have identified Maguire's absence as a potential weakness for England when choosing to select both Mitrovic and Vlahovic up top.

England are without their chief aerial threat, and a third of Serbia's qualifying goals (5/15) were headers, the highest ratio of any team at the finals.

Omen?


Judging by the look of Serbia's XI, Stojkovic has seemingly set them up in either a 3-4-1-2 or 3-5-2.

However, one Milinkovic-Savic brother - goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic - is snubbed. Mallorca's Predag Rajkovic starts in between the posts after keeping a clean sheet in a recently friendly beating of Sweden.


In terms of injuries... there is none for either side to report. Makes a change from Premier League weekends does it not?

However, Luke Shaw is still not quite ready after four months out with a muscle problem, so Kieran Trippier holds the fort at left-back again.


The Newcastle United man's selection has been a slight point of concern for the England faithful, especially with Joe Gomez impressing in that role for Liverpool last term.

However, both Trippier and opposite full-back Kyle Walker could also earn a slice of Three Lions history this evening...


Indeed, a goal for either man would see them become England's oldest male scorer at the European Championships.

Trevor Brooking currently holds that honour - he was 31 when he netted at Euro 1980. Not exactly ancient eh?


From 31 years to 30 minutes, kickoff is fast approaching now!

While England are now Euros participants for the 11th time, Serbia had never qualified for the championships as an independent nation before finishing second in their section behind Hungary.

Records and history have been the theme of the tournament so far, and Sunday's game is certainly a landmark occasion for the Eagles.


The last time that Serbians were present at the Euros, they were representing FR Yugoslavia in the 2000 edition, where they made it to the quarter-finals before losing 6-1 to the Netherlands.

That occasion still marks the only time that a team has shipped six goals in a men's Euros match... although Scotland certainly came pretty close to matching that record a couple of nights ago.


Serbia are not total novices when it comes to the World Cup; they have been present in four of the last five editions but failed to go past the group stages in any of them.

In fact, their 2022 World Cup campaign may be best remembered for the astonishing acrobatic goal that Richarlison struck against them...

Third place in the Puskas Award for the Tottenham Hotspur man.


A word on Serbia's manager Stojkovic. Regarded as one of the greatest players his country has produced, he won 84 caps and was named in the 1990 World Cup All-Star team.

Highly successful club career in Japan, too. Prolific playmaker.


Southgate may not have been such a revered man during his playing days, but amid intense speculation over his future, he is certainly held in very high regard by the FA.

England manager Gareth Southgate pictured on June 7, 2024© Reuters
The build-up to the Euros was dominated by talk of Southgate potentially joining Manchester United as Erik ten Hag's successor, but Sir Jim Ratcliffe ultimately awarded the Dutchman a stay of execution.

As it stands, Southgate will leave the role at the end of the year, and he has hinted as such if another quest for a major honour ends in failure this summer...


However, he still has plenty of credit in the bank with the FA, who apparently want him to continue in his role until the 2026 World Cup, barring a total calamity at the Euros of course...

That cannot happen, right? It's finally coming home, right?

Apologies to the superstitious fans for that pre-game jinx.


Fewer than 15 minutes to go until England and Serbia get their Euro 2024 campaigns underway!

Time for the head-to-head record? I think so... although previous matches between the Three Lions and the Eagles since the latter became independent are, well, non-existent.

Indeed, their last meeting was back in 2003, when England edged out Serbia and Montenegro 2-1 at Leicester City's ground, then known as Walkers Stadium...

Hello Gary Lineker. Hello Thierry Henry. Hello David Beckham.


Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard scored the goals that day, when England were under the wing of Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Our best wishes - and of course, the best wishes of the footballing community - go to him.


Southgate was part of the England team in that friendly, while Serbia coach Stojkovic played in a 2-1 defeat to the Three Lions in 1989.

However, Yugoslavia emerged triumphant in the most high-profile meeting so far, prevailing 1-0 in the Euro 1968 semis before losing to Italy in the final... one area where both sides can empathise.


Fifty-six years later, and victory for either side tonight will send them straight to the top of the group after one matchday, as Slovenia's battle with Denmark earlier this evening ended in a 1-1 draw.

Had Slovenia down as my dark horse for the tournament... too early to count my chickens but not a half-bad start...


The man in the middle tonight is Daniele Orsato, who will retire from refereeing duties once Euro 2024 is over.

The 48-year-old could not hold back the tears after officiating Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund's Champions League semi-final second leg several weeks ago.

Referees are humans too.


Orsato is now leading both teams out for Sunday's finale!

The customary waving of the tifos is underway. Pickford takes a deep breath in the tunnel, which has cave vibes to celebrate the city's mining history.

Big fan personally.


Here come the anthems...

England up first, drowned out by a cacophony of boos initially, but the boys' voices are booming.

Honestly, that was pretty good. Now times for Serbia's.


Proud faces aplenty there. Centre-back Strahinja Pavlovic looks like he particularly enjoyed that one.

Here. We. Go.


The two talismanic strikers Mitrovic and Kane engage in their captain's duties in the centre circle before jogging back to their colleagues.

This is where it begins.


KICKOFF:  UNDERWAY IN GELSENKIRCHEN!

Kickoff courtesy of England.


Immediate scare for Stones as he fails to fully deal with a bouncing ball under pressure from Vlahovic, but he gets away with it.

England now settle into possession and knock the ball around the Serbia middle and final third.

Lovely little backheel from Bellingham to Foden just then. How England missed him against Iceland.


Important to note that Foden has already been floating into space centrally. Expect to see a lot of that tonight.

Alexander-Arnold sends in a free kick from the right but Serbia clear with ease.


Shades of Iceland already here, as Serbia line up with every man behind the ball while England try to pick the lock.

Hopefully not a harbinger of doom...


SHOT!  First attempt of the game as Trippier rises to win a header and tee up Foden, but his bouncing shot goes well wide before the offside flag goes up.

Saka tries in vain to take on Filip Kostic and Serbia win a throw. The Arsenal man looks perplexed but he's never winning that argument.

Rice tries to find the run of Arsenal teammate Saka, but Pavlovic is there first.

Serbia keeping England at arm's length for now.


That being said, they are giving away a few cheap free kicks.

Bellingham wins a foul this time as Lukic grabs a clump of his shirt. England take it short and eventually work it to the back post but Stones is penalised for bringing down Mitrovic.


GOAL!  SERBIA 0-1 ENGLAND (BELLINGHAM)

Lift-off for England! And it's that man Jude Bellingham!

Saka beats the Serbia offside trap and sends in a deflected cross, which Bellingham charges in to meet and power a header home!

England's Euros campaign off to a flyer!


Rajkovic did not even try to stop Bellingham's header. It was perfectly placed into the corner.

What a run. What a goal. What a start.


And all that pre-game talk about Serbia's aerial threat eh?

Still plenty of time to go of course, but that was richly deserved.


No mention of Kane yet... that's because he has barely seen the ball.

The Three Lions skipper is staying right on the shoulder of Serbia's last defender rather than dropping deep to flaunt his playmaking prowess.


Zivkovic tugs back Bellingham by the dugouts and gets a talking-to from Orsato, but nothing more.

The England scorer could afford a wry smile.


SHOT!  Alexander-Arnold drags a shot wide after a quick England break, sparked by a Marc Guehi challenge on Vlahovic.

The Crystal Palace man has looked totally unfazed thus far.


Vlahovic took out his frustrations a bit on Bellingham with a bit of a naughty elbow to the face, but he also escapes punishment.

SHOT!  Warning sign for England!

Alexander-Arnold loses the ball in a dangerous area and Mitrovic flashes one just wide of the post from outside the box.

No more of that please boys.


Any Arsenal fans tuning in (i.e. me) will remember Mitrovic pouncing on Gabriel Magalhaes's sloppiness to score for Fulham a couple of years ago. Only one lapse in concentration and he is ready to strike.

England free kick to the back post which Rice perhaps does not expect to reach him; he chests the ball out for a goal kick.


Serbia break forward once more, but Guehi is well-positioned to stop Vlahovic's strike in its tracks.

Careful Jude...

In the process of firing up the crowd, he gives Kostic an unnecessary shoulder barge. Water under the bridge.


CLOSE!  INCHES AWAY FROM KYLE WALKER!

England surge down the right through the Manchester City man - who is not being caught by anyone - but his scuffed shot trickles across the six-yard box and out of play.

Southgate's men so close to a second!


England's Trent Alexander-Arnold in action with Serbia's Filip Kostic on June 16, 2024© Reuters
Analysis from Sports Mole football editor Matt Law:

"It has been the perfect start for England.

"The Three Lions had to be patient in the early stages, but it was a towering header from Bellingham. Serbia are just starting to open up, though, which could bring chances at either end.

"Mitrovic could be a problem for England, and he has already had a sighter. This match is far from over despite the strong start from the Three Lions."


Serbia slowly starting to show what they can be capable of, albeit in very short-lived flashes.

Rice nips in on Mitrovic and England are back in control of the ball again.


Free kick in a very promising area for England as Alexander-Arnold is wiped out by Nemanja Gudelj...

Foden, Trippier and Alexander-Arnold are all over it... and the latter eventually hits the ball straight into the wall.

Another man who has been in the mood tonight is Bukayo Saka. A real livewire down that right-hand side.

He thinks he is barged over by Pavlovic and may have a case, but the referee sees differently.


Serbia enjoy a nice spell of possession and Zivkovic delivers a dangerous cross, but Guehi stands tall and deals with the danger.

In the absence of Maguire, the Palace man has done exceptionally well.


Serbia's strengths are just not coming off tonight.

This time, Bellingham is there to hack away a poor delivery from the left.


The Eagles still seeing plenty of the ball right about now, but the threat of their two strikers and Milinkovic-Savic has been virtually nullified.

Bellingham again chips in defensively to pick Vlahovic's pocket.


CLOSE!  England turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye as Saka flashes a dangerous ball across goal, but it's just behind Foden and there is no Kane to turn it in.

YELLOW CARD!  Bellingham and Gudelj both go in for a 50-50 and the England man just gets there first.

Both men sprawled on the turf and the Sevilla man is booked for his troubles.


From Guehi to Rice and Bellingham to Saka, England have really been at the races tonight.

Sense that Southgate will be desperate for a second before the break, though...


To add injury to Serbian insult, Kostic is down on the turf and needs treatment.

A consequence of trying to quell Walker and Saka.


Just seeing a replay of that Bellingham goal while Kostic is attended to; the Real Madrid man and Alexander-Arnold engaged in their own little celebration after the team mob.

What could have been, eh Liverpool fans?


Kostic has a pained expression on his face - will he be able to continue? Serbia down to 10 for now.

SERBIA SUB The answer is no.

Kostic trudges off and is replaced by Panathinaikos' Filip Mladenovic.


Cannot help but feel for the Juventus man there, but on the bright side, he will not be terrorised by England's right flank anymore...

Saka now escapes three red shirts inside his own half but Serbia regain possession.


Two minutes of injury time added on.

Late opportunity for Serbia as an awkward Stones clearance leads to a Serbia corner...

HALF TIME:  SERBIA 0-1 ENGLAND

HALF TIME:  It comes to nothing and that's the half.

England have been well on top and deservedly took the lead through an emphatic Bellingham header, while the likes of Saka, Rice and Guehi have also been magnificent.

Pickford has not had a save to make, but England have not fashioned many good chances for a second, and Serbia have shown some attacking intent, albeit without a killer touch.

Stojkovic's side certainly not out of this one.


More of the same should be the message from Southgate at half time, but will Stojkovic consider any alterations?

Tadic is the obvious name that stands out - just the 108 caps for the ex-Southampton man.


For all of our waxing lyrical about England's right flank, Foden has rarely been sighted, while Kane had just two... yes, two... touches in that first half.

However, the 30-year-old needs just one touch to make it count.


Here's the goal, by the way.

Lovely run from Bellingham - completely untracked - and Rajkovic is flat-footed.


Not long until both teams re-emerge for the second half! Any in-play predictions anyone?

I back England to score again, but Serbia should eventually get one right to set up a nervy finale. 2-1 England.


KICKOFF:  And we go again! Serbia get us back underway.

SERBIA SUB

Stojkovic has made a half-time change. Gudelj - on a yellow card - is off. Torino's Ivan Ilic comes on.


Normal service resumed. Bellingham goes in on Mitrovic and gets the ball, albeit briefly.

The 20-year-old has really defined the term midfield maestro so far tonight.


Kane enjoys a rare touch of the ball, but Orsato inadvertently stops him in his tracks.

It's all smiles at the end, though.


Saka and Pavlovic at it again after England snuff out a Serbia attack, but the latter manages to put his opponent off enough to misplace a pass.

Analysis from Sports Mole football editor Matt Law:

"Serbia are a threat here, no doubt about that. England can be pleased with a lot of their work so far, but Serbia are clearly growing in confidence and believe that they can fight back.

Bellingham, Saka and Guehi have been excellent for England, but Kane is finding it difficult to keep hold of the ball. It is delicately poised with a lot of football left to play tonight. Fascinating watch!"


Serbia certainly have grown in confidence since Bellingham's opener.

Vlahovic fizzes a ball in from the left across the six-yard box but Trippier is there to intercept.


England yet to really get going in this half, but Pickford yet to be tested.

SHOT!  Alexander-Arnold starts an attack with a lovely switch of play to Trippier; the ball is eventually worked back to the Liverpool man but his shot is straight at Rajkovic.

England have found their groove again.

Alexander-Arnold tries to play provider this time with a low cross to Bellingham, but he is eventually crowded out.

Still, the momentum might be shifting again...


CLOSE!  Nearly the curse of the live blogger!

Mladenovic bombs into the box for Serbia and tries to pick out Mitrovic, but Pickford just gets there first and gathers at the second attempt.


Trippier did give Mitrovic a small nudge to help the ball on its way to Pickford, but nothing penalty-worthy.

SERBIA SUBS

And that was Mitrovic's last act. The Al-Hilal man has been huffing and puffing but now cedes his place to Dusan Tadic.

Sasa Lukic is also off for another striker in Luka Jovic, now playing for AC Milan.


Jovic immediately joining Vlahovic up top and Tadic playing the free role in midfield.

Serbia still probing.


Mladenovic and Milinkovic-Savic combine beautifully down the left, but another cross is eventually dealt with, this time by Walker.

England living very dangerously...


CHANCE!  The two Serbian substitutes nearly combine!

Tadic works a yard of space and threads a delicate pass into Jovic's path, but the striker just cannot get the ball under his control and the chance fizzles out.

Ominous signs, though. England must change something, and fast.


First corner of the match for England which Alexander-Arnold stands over... but Rajkovic punches clear. Good goalkeeping.

England keep the ball alive and Bellingham twists and turns Ilic out on the left, but his cross is straight into Rajkovic's gloves.

ENGLAND SUB

Southgate bites the bullet and makes a change. Alexander-Arnold is off, the Duracell bunny Conor Gallagher is on.


Alexander-Arnold did not show everything that he is capable of from that role this evening, but Southgate's decision was mostly vindicated.

Gallagher's energy and pressing will be vital in these final 20 minutes, though.


Slightly nervy moment for Pickford, who chooses to one-hand punch a cross clear when the catch may have been on, but the Three Lions survive again.

Saka comes out on top from a sea of red shirts and lays off the industrious Bellingham, but England play it safe once more.

SERBIA SUB

Zivkovic now makes way as Veljko Birmancevic takes up right-wing duties for the remainder of the match.


YELLOW CARD!  Tadic stops Foden in his tracks and is now on a warning.

ENGLAND SUB

Fresh legs for England down the right as Jarrod Bowen replaces Saka, who was exhilarating in the first 45.


OFF THE BAR!  SO CLOSE FROM HARRY KANE!

OFF THE BAR!  Bowen is involved immediately, delivering a lofted ball into the head of Kane, but Rajkovic marvellously tips his aerial effort onto the bar.

Massive stop to keep Serbia in this one.


End-to-end stuff now! Great for the neutrals, not so much for the Three Lions.

Pavlovic now goes on a Joel Matip-esque run but can only send a cross into empty space.


Concern now for England as Trippier goes down. The left-back gods are not on Southgate's side whatsoever.

He is walking relatively normally as he makes his way to the sidelines.


Seemingly just cramp for the Newcastle United man.

A quick stretch, a tube of energy gel and he's good to go again.


SAVE!  Pickford called into action as Vlahovic lets fly from range with a brilliant turn and left-footed strike, which the Everton man tips over.

From the resulting corner, Kane does brilliantly to stop Birmancevic's goal-bound volley in its tracks.

No Trent? No problem. Pickford sprays an absolutely exquisite pass out to Bowen on the right, but Serbia win the ball back quickly.

They can sense an equaliser.


ENGLAND SUB

Bellingham's number is up, and he rightfully goes off to a rousing ovation. Nineteen-year-old Kobbie Mainoo is on for his major tournament debut,


Foden charges into battle and is blocked off by Veljkovic to win a free kick, but England fail to retain possession and Serbia are trying to pick the lock again...

CLOSE!  Hit and hope time.

Milinkovic-Savic is allowed to let fly from range, nearly a fatal mistake, but his drive is slightly too high and wide.


Four minutes of injury time for England to hold on.

Squeaky bum time, as Pep Guardiola might now say.


It truly is shut-up-shop time now for the men in white, but Southgate's changes have proven effective.

Gallagher wins a free kick inside the Serbia half and will take his sweet time getting up.


Rice's delivery finds Bowen, but the West Ham United man immediately chests the ball out of play.

One last chance?


SHOT!  Ilic goes for the long-range screamer but Gallagher is in the way.

England's Jude Bellingham celebrates scoring against Serbia on June 16, 2024© Reuters
FULL TIME - SERBIA 0-1 ENGLAND

FULL TIME:  JOB DONE!

It was not pretty, it was not imaginative, it was not all that inspiring, but it is a win. And a very hard-fought one at that.

Bellingham's header is the difference, and England successfully defended for their lives in the second half.

The Three Lions are top of Group C.


To those of you who are still reading in between your episodes of nail-biting, thank you very much for joining us to witness another nerve-jangling England victory.
You can check out our match report here.

Until next time, goodnight!


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Euro 2024 fixtures header
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Group A

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Germany Germany32107
Q Switzerland Switzerland31205
3 Hungary Hungary31023
4 Scotland flag Scotland30121

Group B

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Spain Spain33009
Q Italy Italy31114
3 Croatia Croatia30212
4 Albania national flag Albania30121

Group C

TeamPWDLPTS
Q England flag England31205
Q Denmark Denmark30303
Q Slovenia Slovenia30303
4 Serbia Serbia30212

Group D

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Austria Austria32016
Q France France31205
Q Netherlands Netherlands31114
4 Poland Poland30121

Group E

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Romania Romania31114
Q Belgium Belgium31114
Q Slovakia Slovakia31114
4 Ukraine Ukraine31114

Group F

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Portugal Portugal32016
Q Turkey Turkey32016
Q Georgia Georgia31114
4 Czech Republic Czech Republic30121


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