EURO 2024 Report: Serbia 0 - 1 England


Credit: Photo by Shaun Botterill - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

More questions than answers for Gareth Southgate’s side as they fell over the finishing line tonight.

A first half header from Jude Bellingham gave them an early lead but they were unable to really build on it.

Several key players lacked any significant impact on the game.  

It was perhaps a missed opportunity for the Serbians though. They looked comfortable for much of the game despite the disparity of possession. It took them too long to properly create chances of note to test the English defence. 

Much of the conversation for England revolved around the inclusion of Trent Alexander Arnold in midfield. The fullback filled in alongside Declan Rice in a deep role.

Injuries to defenders meant that Kieran Trippier started at left back and Marc Guehi in central defence. Serbia were aiming to test the unfamiliar backline with the strength of Aleksander Mitrovic and guile of Dusan Vlahovic.

Sergi Milinkovic-Savic making the deep runs from midfield. 

England begun the game dominating possession as Serbia seemed content to lie deep and look for opportunities to break. 

Jude Bellingham tried to set up a shooting chance for Phil that went wide of the post. There was too much lateral passing, and they were not getting behind the Serbian backline. 

It was somewhat out of the blue when they went ahead though. Kyle Walker advanced into midfield before playing the ball down the side for Bakayo Saka. He just got his cross in before it was blocked. It arrived in the middle to be met by the head of Bellingham who stole space on his marker. 

It all seemed too comfortable for them, and they almost paid the price. Trent Alexander Arnold gave the ball away just outside his own area and it was immediately played into the path of Aleksander Mitrovic. He perhaps took his shot too early and it went just wide of the post. 

Walker was at it again as he uses his speed to burst into the opposition box. His effort is neither pass not shot and drifted wide of the post before any of his team-mates are able to make any connection on it.

The shape of the side was having success through Saka but failing badly on the other side with Foden who was unable to make much impact. 

The indecision almost led to an equaliser right on half-time. Sasa Lukic played a one-two before playing a ball across the area. John Stones dithered on the ball but just about managed to clear it. 

England did not heed the warning and were on the back foot again. Dusan Vlahovic came alive for the first time and fizzed a ball across the area.

Trippier was in the right place to clear it away. Mitrovic then went down in the area under pressure from the full back. It was refused on VAR check. It was his last action of the game and almost replaced straight away. 

The experiment in midfield did not last much long with Conor Gallagher replacing Alexander Arnold. Another substitute almost helped double the lead.

Jarrod Bowen escaped his marker to put in a cross that was met by the head of Harry Kane. Predrag Rajkovic produced an excellent save to tip it onto the bar. 

England were hanging on as the game approached the conclusion. Serbia had their first shot on target as Vlahovic turned and fired goalwards. Jordan Pickford did well to tip it over. From the resulting corner, Kane was forced to head off the line. 

Despite pressure in the closing minutes Serbia were unable to find the necessary equaliser. Relief rather than joy for the English players on the final whistle.

They have to make a massive improvement before facing Denmark on Thursday in Frankfurt at 17:00. Serbia take on their near neighbours Slovenia on the same day at 14:00.  

Serbia: Predrag Rajkovic; Nikola Milenkovic, Strahinja Pavlovic, Milos Veljkovic; Nemanja Gudelj (Ivan Ilic 46), Filip Kostic (Filip Mladenovic 43), Saša Lukić (Dusan Tadic 60), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Andrija Zivkovic (Veljko Birmancevic 75); Aleksandar Mitrović (Luka Jovic 60), Dusan Vlahovic.

Subs not used: Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, Đorđe Petrović, Srdan Babic, Uros Spajic, Nemanja Stojić, Srdan Mijailovic, Mijat Gacinovic, Nemanja Maksimovic, Lazar Samardzic, Petar Ratkov.

Booked: Nemanja Gudelj (39).

England: Jordan Pickford; Addji Guéhi, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker; Trent Alexander-Arnold (Conor Gallagher 69), Jude Bellingham (Kobbie Mainoo 85), Philip Foden, Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka (Jarrod Bowen 75); Harry Kane.

Subs not used: Aaron Ramsdale, Dean Henderson, Joseph Gomez, Luke Shaw, Lewis Dunk, Eberechi Eze, Adam Wharton, Cole Palmer, Ivan Toney, Oliver Watkins, Ezri Konsa Ngoyo, Anthony Gordon.

Referee: Daniele Orsato

Attendance: 48,953 Player of the Match: Marc Guéhi (England).