England opened their Euro 2020 campaign with a 1-0 victory over Croatia at Wembley on Sunday afternoon.
Raheem Sterling’s second half effort was enough to ensure the Three Lions secured all three points as they took a giant step towards qualifying for the Round of 16 stage.
It was an encouraging start to the tournament for Gareth Southgate’s side, with the victory over the side considered to be the second strongest in the group offering great hope of qualification for the knockouts.
It was the first time England have won their opening match at the European Championships, but how does it compare to the side’s opening fixtures in their last ten major international tournaments?
World Cup 1998: England 2-0 Tunisia
Glenn Hoddle’s got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start with a controlled two-goal victory over Tunisia in Marseille.
Alan Shearer headed England in front three minutes before half-time when he rose to meet Graeme Le Saux’s free-kick, following a sustained spell of England pressure.
Paul Scholes doubled the lead in the final minute of regulation time with a wonderful shot which curled inside the far post following Paul Ince’s pass.
Despite coasting through the group stages, England were eliminated by Argentina at the Round of 16 stage in a memorable, fiery encounter which saw David Beckham sent-off.
Euro 2000: England 2-3 Portugal
Kevin Keegan’s one international tournament at the helm of England was a painful one, as they suffered elimination at the group stage.
In a tough group, both the Three Lions and Germany – who England managed to defeat 1-0 – fell at the first hurdle, with Portugal winning all three matches and they were joined in the quarter-finals by Romania, who defeated England dramatically in the final group game.
The opening match was the story of England’s short tournament – getting into a good position early (Paul Scholes and Steve McManaman gave them a two-goal lead in the opening quarter) before throwing it away.
Goals from Luis Figo, Joao Pinto and Nuno Gomes downed England – starting a string of defeats against the Iberian nation in key international tournaments.
World Cup 2002: England 1-1 Sweden
Another opening match in which England started well – Sol Campbell’s header midway through the first half giving them a deserved lead – before being pegged back.
Niclas Alexandersson deservedly equalised just before the hour mark following a Danny Mills blunder.
England made it through the groups – beating Argentina and drawing with Nigeria – before seeing off Denmark at the Round of 16.
However, they were downed in the quarter-finals by Brazil; Michael Owen giving them the lead before Rivaldo and the iconic free-kick from Ronaldinho over a back-peddling David Seaman sealed their fate.
Euro 2004: England 1-2 France
Probably England’s most agonising opening match at a major finals, having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a scarcely believable stoppage time turnaround.
Frank Lampard had given Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side the first half lead as he headed home David Beckham’s free-kick, and England were still in front going into the 90 th minute.
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Up step Zinedine Zidane, who turned the game on its head in a scarcely believable finish; firstly scoring a majestic free-kick one minute into injury time before netting from the penalty spot two minutes later – and even vomited on the pitch as he waited to take the spot kick.
England subsequently beat Croatia and Switzerland to make it out of the group but were defeated by Portugal at the quarter-final stage. Penalties, of course.
World Cup 2006: England 1-0 Paraguay
A third minute own goal from veteran Paraguayan defender Carlos Gamarra – who inadvertently deflected David Beckham’s free-kick into his own net – decided this forgettable opening game.
Eriksson’s side defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 before an entertaining 2-2 draw with Sweden, while they saw off Ecuador 1-0 at the Round of 16 stage.
The following round saw them paired with old adversary Portugal, who defeated them in the last eight for the second tournament in succession. Penalties, of course. After Cristiano Ronaldo ’s infamous wink and Wayne Rooney’s red card.
World Cup 2010: England 1-1 USA
Having missed out on Euro 2008 under the ill-fated spell of Steve McClaren, hopes were high going into the 2010 finals under Fabio Capello – with a kind group of USA, Slovenia and Algeria.
The misfortunate in the opening game against the States was prescient for the remainder of their group; Steven Gerrard’s fourth-minute opener gave them great hope but a huge blunder from Rob Green allowed Clint Dempsey’s weak, long-range effort to sneak in.
A dreadful scoreless draw against Algeria followed before an unconvincing 1-0 win over Slovenia saw them scrape through the group stage.
It was the Round of 16 and a major upgrade in opposition that saw England fall – being routed 4-1 by Germany, in a game where Frank Lampard scored a goal which would have been legal had it come after the introduction of goal-line technology.
Euro 2012: England 1-1 France
Once again, England started a major tournament brightly but then threw away the lead and then endured another underwhelming tournament.
Joleon Lescott opened the scoring on the half-hour mark against France, but it was cancelled out by Samir Nasri’s equaliser nine minutes later in Donestk.
Wins over Ukraine and Sweden followed for the Three Lions, but the quarter-final stage once again saw penalty shootout heartache against Italy, with Andrea Pirlo’s Panenka finish the highlight from the decider.
World Cup 2014: England 1-2 Italy
For once, England fell behind in their opening finals match due to Claudio Marchisio’s fine long-range strike, although Daniel Sturridge did level the score within two minutes.
Mario Balotelli’s header five minutes after the break condemned Roy Hodgson’s side to a disappointing loss and, against all the odds, neither nation made it through the group stage.
England were downed by Uruguay – who also beat Italy – while Costa Rica were the real story of the group, with their qualification sealed by the time they drew their final match 0-0 against England, who suffered a humbling exit.
Euro 2016: England 1-1 Russia
England once again fell short in the opening match of a tournament during their clash against an underwhelming Russian side in Marseille.
Eric Dier’s strike with 17 minutes remaining had looked set to give them victory over a Russian side who offered no attacking threat throughout.
That was until Vasili Berezutski’s last minute header, which ensured England’s record of throwing away leads and shooting themselves in the foot once again repeated itself.
England edged out Wales before being held by Slovakia, before once again throwing away a lead in their Round of 16 knockout clash against Iceland – who secured arguably the biggest shock of the tournament with a stunning 2-1 victory.
World Cup 2018: England 2-1 Tunisia
Harry Kane’s stoppage time winner secured England a late victory over Tunisia as they broke their 12-year streak of not winning their first match at a major tournament.
It was Kane’s second of the game – having netted from the spot in the first half, in which Ferjani Sassi equalised for the North African side from the penalty spot.
It was the omen of a strong England tournament: thrashing Panama 6-1 before going down 1-0 to Belgium having already qualified, with knockout victories over Colombia and Sweden preceding the semi-final loss to Croatia.