England qualifies top of Group C after underwhelming goalless draw against Slovenia

Damond Isiaka
4 Min Read


CNN
 — 

England secured top spot in Group C with a goalless draw against Slovenia on Tuesday, but another underwhelming performance throws up more questions about the Three Lions’ status as one of the Euro 2024 favorites.

In the other game, Denmark and Serbia drew 0-0 as the Red and Whites finished second in the group, though Slovenia’s squad celebrated its historic first European Championship knockouts qualification as one of the four best third-placed teams.

England enjoyed 71% possession but did nothing to respond to the criticism leveled at the team in the days since another lethargic and fearful performance against Denmark.

The team created few real chances of note and were again met by boos at full-time from traveling England fans.

Gareth Southgate’s side did show improvements in the second half after the introductions of Kobbie Mainoo and Cole Palmer, but the Three Lions never really threatened Atlético Madrid keeper Jan Oblak.

Worries for England?

Slovenia knew a draw could be enough to see it through to the knockout stages for the first time in history but would be reliant on results elsewhere going its way.

England, meanwhile, had been heavily criticized for two poor performances to open Euro 2024: a narrow 1-0 win over Serbia and a 1-1 draw with Denmark.

The team’s half-hearted pressing and its overly cautious approach have been the primary sources of frustrations for England fans, but Southgate’s side had the chance to be more free-spirited against Slovenia given results on Monday ensured the Three Lions a place in the last 16.

England thought it had taken the lead after 20 minutes when Bukayo Saka tapped in at the far post from Phil Foden’s square pass, but the Manchester City forward was offside in the build-up.

Denmark and Serbia also played out a 0-0 draw.

All in all, however, it was another dismal half of football from England, which enjoyed the vast majority of possession without causing Slovenia any real problems.

The Slovenians looked comfortable on the ball during their few brief spells of possession and got into some dangerous areas, but a lack of quality meant those rare forays forward came to nothing.

Southgate has so far been unable to find a midfield pairing that’s worked for him at Euro 2024, this time opting to start Conor Gallagher alongside Declan Rice instead of Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Gallagher only lasted the first half, however, with Southgate opting to bring on Manchester United teenager Kobbie Mainoo. There was a slight improvement in England’s intensity to begin the second half, but Slovenia still looked comfortable allowing the Three Lions to pass the ball around in front of them.

Chelsea forward Cole Palmer made his long awaited debut at this tournament, coming on for Saka after 70 minutes, but there was little change in England’s approach going forward.

Slovenia defender Erik Janza and England midfielder Jude Bellingham chatting during the match.

Rice and Foden exchanged a neat one-two that resulted in the former flashing a shot across goal, but it was never close enough to trouble Oblak.

Palmer had perhaps England’s best chance towards the end after being found by Harry Kane, but his tame effort from the edge of the area was easily held by the Atleti keeper.

England’s slight improvement in the second half, though, will likely have Southgate rethinking his starting lineup ahead of the last 16.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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