West Ham United's Declan Rice helps England make winning start against Croatia at UEFA Euro 2020
Declan Rice helped England make a winning start to their UEFA European Championship campaign on Sunday.
The West Ham United midfielder started as the Three Lions beat Croatia 1-0 at a sun-soaked Wembley Stadium thanks to Raheem Sterling’s second-half goal.
Playing in a deep-lying midfield role in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the 22-year-old was his usual efficient self, making a tackle, two clearances and completing 87.5% of his passes.
With Rice shielding the back four and goalkeeper, his midfield partner Kalvin Phillips of Leeds United was able to break forward and set up Manchester City forward Sterling for the all-important goal 12 minutes after half-time.
Phillips had earlier seen a well-struck volley saved by Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livaković, while Sterling’s clubmate Phil Foden curled an early shot against the base of the post as England started brightly.
With temperatures exceeding 30C (86F) at Wembley, the tempo of the game slowed, but Phillips’ burst and pass and Sterling’s finish was the moment of quality that ensured Rice enjoyed a winning start to his career in major international tournament football.
The No4 had a well-known fan cheering him on as Jesse Lingard, who struck up a close friendship with Rice during his recent loan spell at London Stadium, posted a photo on Instagram watching the game wearing a shirt bearing the Hammer’s name and number!
Rice star will hope to earn his 19th senior cap when England continue their Euro 2020 campaign with a mouth-watering Group D derby with Scotland at Wembley on Friday 18 June at 8pm.
England's third group game will see Rice potentially face West Ham teammates Tomáš Souček and Vladimír Coufal when Southgate's squad take on the Czech Republic, also at Wembley, on Tuesday 22 June at 8pm.