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Serbia 0-1 England: Bellingham the hero as Three Lions start Euro 2024 with win

England Euro 2024

Jude Bellingham starred for England as they beat Serbia 1-0 in their opening Euro 2024 match.

The Three Lions were dominant in the first half, pushing the Slavis into theirs own half for much of the opening 45 minutes.

And it was the recent Champions League winner who popped up with a crucial goal for Gareth Southgate’s men, powering home a header from close range.

Serbia battled back and were playing rough with their opponents, but they could not put the ball into the back of the net.

The second half was incredibly scrappy and somewhat concerning from England, but considering how bad their record is in the opening game of European Championships, they will be glad to have picked up three big points and put themselves at the top of Group C.

As it happened

As expected, England took complete control of the game from the very first minute.

Serbia had a noticeably big squad, with Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic leading the line.

And it was clear the tactic was to use them as holding centre forwards to give their team-mates chance to get up the pitch when England eventually lost the ball.

In their warm-up matches, the Three Lions struggled to break down two teams who set up in low blocks and it was always going to be a similar case against their first Group C opponents.

The opening 10 minutes offered little for the tournament favourites in terms of chances.

A lot of sideways passing was on display as England took their time to try and wear their opponents down.

But when the clock hit double digits, Southgate’s men sparked into life.

A great ball from Walker played Saka in behind and his deflected cross was powered home by Bellingham, much to the delight of the noisy crowd.

It was just the start England wanted having seen most of their tournament rivals go ahead early in their opening matches and they looked to seize the initiative having scored the first goal.

But Serbia still looked dangerous on the counter. Mitrovic reminded his opponents that they do have quality by firing a low shot inches wide of Jordan Pickford’s post.

Walker had a chance for himself not long after, driving into the box but opting to try and cross the ball across the face of goal rather than shoot himself.

No one was able to get on the end and Serbia were spared in the moment.

They took the let-off as a motivation to up their game and they certainly enjoyed more of the ball in the build-up to half-time.

Pickford was never really tested but he was furious on more than one occasion at the space and time Serbia were being allowed in the England half.

Serbia continued their surge early in the second half, with the favourites in white unable to retain the ball.

Nikola Milenkovic was getting the better of Harry Kane and Strahinja Pavlovic was starting to get in front of Saka on the right-hand side as opposed to letting him constantly run at him.

Serbia had a penalty shout waved away after Mitrovic was nudged slightly by Kieran Trippier but there was no VAR check for the incident, to the fury of the players in red.

The biggest chance for England in the second half came through captain Kane, and his effort looked certain to land in the back of the net.

Substitute Jarrod Bowen delivered a deep cross that the Bayern Munich man ran on to, brushing aside his man and powering a header towards goal, but a huge save from Rajkovic pushed the ball onto the bar and Serbia cleared the loose ball.

The final ten minutes of the match were certainly nervous for the Three Lions.

Serbia had thrown so many attackers on that the game was becoming incredibly open and Pickford was forced into a flying save to deny Vlahovic from distance.

The dying moments were all about killing the game for England and they were happy to just sit in and absorb the pressure.

It was not pretty, but Southgate’s men managed to get the job done and pick up their first three points of the tournament.

What next for England and Serbia at Euro 2024?

England’s Euro 2024 campaign continues in four days when they face Denmark on 20 June.

A win will likely guarantee them a place in the knockout stages but if they need it, they take on Slovenia in their final group stage game on 25 June.

Serbia will take on the same opponents as England in reverse order.

First up is Slovenia on 20 June and then they face Denmark on 25 June.

Picture of Mitch Fretton

Mitch Fretton

Mitch is a freelance sports journalist with experience working for LiveScore, GOAL and Colchester United. He has experience working from both his desk at home and in the press box at games covering the Champions League and international football.