Wembley Stadium, London, England have given Germany a relentless finishing lesson, converting their only two real chances in this Euro 2020 round of 16 game to finally end their decades-old inferiority complex against their old and historic rivals.
The last time the English had defeated their rivals was in the 1966 World Cup final. Since then, they have collected eliminations at the World Cup in 1970, 1990 and 2010, in addition to losing in the semifinal, on penalties, in the 1996 Euro .
Now, England will face the winner of Sweden x Ukraine, who play at 16:00.
Sterling and Harry Kane guaranteed the home team a 2-0 victory and passage to the quarter-finals.
For neutral, it certainly wasn’t a thriller. At times both sides seemed more scared by the prospect of losing than excited by the idea of winning.
Germany had the best chances until England stole the lead in the 75th minute thanks to Sterling’s shot from close range.
Playing in front of a partisan crowd of 40,000 that made Wembley Stadium look like it was packed, England took their chances when it mattered.
The introduction of Jack Grealish by England coach Gareth Southgate in the second half also helped to change the course of the match.
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Grealish was involved in both England goals and will certainly have secured his place in the next round.
As “It’s Coming Home” – the chorus of “Three Lions,” England’s adopted anthem – echoed at Wembley, the English players took a well-deserved spin of honor and immersed themselves in the adulation of an ecstatic crowd.
England have won just one KO draw in European Championship history, a quarter-final victory over Spain at Euro ’96.
Perhaps the current group of young English players seem to be feeling the weight of anticipation, their careless pass went astray as Germany dominated the first 10 minutes.
England’s defense then disintegrated when Leon Goretzka found himself face-to-face with goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, only to be clumsily brought down by Declan Rice.
A nervous silence descended over Wembley, the crowd quieted for the first time as the English fans nervously waited for the referee’s decision; he let out a sigh of relief when Germany received only one free-kick, though Rice was given a yellow card.
That moment seemed to galvanize England, who began attacking with some intent for the first time in the entire game. First, Sterling managed an excellent save from Manuel Neuer, before Harry Maguire’s header into the next corner was comforted by the German goalkeeper.
As things got more frantic and the decibels increased, Southgate seemed the calmest man inside Wembley Stadium, hands in his pockets as he strolled through the technical area, occasionally reaching out to offer some tactical advice to the players.
England certainly had the upper hand now, but not too much of a nuisance for Germany. Maguire climbed high on the far post after a good link between Kalvin Phillips and Kieran Trippier, but his effort soared over the bar when perhaps he should have done better.
Germany gradually started to play their way back into the game and arguably had the best chance of the game when Timo Wener was submitted in goal. The angle may have been correct, but his effort was still well defended by Pickford.
The away team started to take the advantage and the frustration of the home fans erupted in a chorus of mockery when Trippier had the opportunity to put the ball in the area, but opted for a short pass.
England captain and prolific striker Kane received some criticism during Euro 2020, failing to score – or even enter the game – in all three of England’s group stage games, and he only touched the ball twice in the opening. 30 minutes here.
Germany continued to improve at the start of the second period and almost caught up with England in the first five minutes. It took a wonderful save from Pickford to negate Kai Havertz’s long-range strike, which seemed for a split second as if it was going to sneak under the crossbar.
However, a quick run from Sterling, twisting back and forth between the German defense, brought the crowd back to their feet. The Manchester City forward appeared to have created an opening, but the wall of black shirts quickly closed to block any opportunity.
Both coaches made their first change with just over 20 minutes left in the game, with Grealish making a huge roar as he replaced Bukayo Saka and Joachim Löw opting to bring in Werner in place of Serge Gnabry.
Then, suddenly, fans in England got the breakthrough they had been hoping for.
Shaw found only a small space of space on the left side of the Germany area and was picked up by Grealish, before firing a delicious low cross straight into the goal Sterling was ready to hit beneath Neuer.
Cue pandemonium inside Wembley as the crowd finally began to believe that their showdown tournament against Germany was coming to an end.
That feeling grew when Thomas Mueller was zeroed after Sterling gave the ball cheaply, but the Bayern Munich forward shot wide.
At the far end of the field, Sterling landed in relief and hit Wembley grass.
When Kane converted the second, nodding his head in a Grealish cross less than five minutes after Mueller’s foul, this crowd knew their team was in the quarterfinals.
The noise inside Wembley was deafening – these fans haven’t had an occasion like this to cheer for a quarter of a century. They hope to take two steps further than in 1996, but for now they will only enjoy their second knockout victory at a European Championship.