England put in a disciplined performance to beat Germany 2-0 in their Round of 16 clash in the European Championships at Wembley, with Jordan Pickford putting in a disciplined performance and yet to concede a goal during this competition.
Gareth Southgate made a surprising lineup announcement on a number of counts - the England manager had his side in a 3-4-3 formation likely to match their opponents’ 3-4-2-1. However, with the dearth of young attacking talent in the squad, Southgate not only named seven defensive players in his backline and midfield with two DMs in Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice, he also omitted Dominic Calvert-Lewin completely from the matchday squad with no other strikers on the bench to back up captain Harry Kane.
Pickford kept his spot between the sticks and had a solid first half even though he was barely tested. The Everton #1 was called into action very early in the game when Leon Goretzka took a shot from distance but it was weak and easily collected. His next involvement was more critical though, with Timo Warner getting in between John Stones and Kyle Walker, but Pickford made himself big coming out quickly and smothering the shot with his legs.
It was 0-0 at halftime with both sides having missed chances, Harry Maguire having failed to hit the target with two open headers and Matts Hummels putting in an incredible last-ditch tackle to deny Kane after he had left Manuel Neuer for dead after a great first touch to a ricocheting ball in the box.
The away side started faster in the second half, with Kai Havertz putting his foot through a bouncing ball from a corner, but Pickford was equal to the task with a quick reaction save to push that piledriver over the bar.
Germany continued to pile on the pressure but it was the Three Lions who struck first with barely a quarter of an hour left to play. Raheem Sterling started and finished the move, finding Kane who fed it back to substitute Jack Grealish, with the Villa player finding Luke Shaw out wide. The wingback’s low cross was sumptuous and Sterling came into the box and opened up his body to tap in the ball at the far post past a sprawling Neuer.
Der Mannschaft almost hit back immediately with Thomas Muller running free behind the England back line, but with Pickford quickly out to narrow the angles the veteran screwed his shot horribly wide.
There were gaps to be exploited with Germany piling forward late on, and on a quick break Kane glanced home a low header from a Grealish cross to seal the victory.
The last time Pickford conceded a goal in the England colours was against Belgium back in October 2020 with his former teammate Romelu Lukaku beating him in the UEFA Nations’ League. It was during the game though that the news dropped that Rafa Benitez has apparently signed all the paperwork and Everton are on the verge of announcing him as their next manager.
No announcement from @Everton but the contracts have been sorted and Rafa Benitez is now the manager. He’s signed a three-year deal— Dominic King (@DominicKing_DM) June 29, 2021
Until then though, Pickford, Calvert-Lewin and England march on in Euro 2020 or Euro 2021, whatever you would like to call it.