England 0-0 Slovenia: Three Lions top group despite underwhelming display

By Sports Desk June 25, 2024

England finished first in Group C at Euro 2024 but again disappointed during their goalless draw with Slovenia in Cologne on Tuesday.

The Three Lions endured another flat display in front of goal, with Bukayo Saka's ruled out first-half effort the only real moment of quality from Gareth Southgate's side.

An injection of pace from substitute Cole Palmer threatened to spark England into life, but a winning goal eluded them as they finished with just five points from their three group games.  

Despite the draw, England topped Group C following Serbia's goalless draw with Denmark, meaning they avoided a last-16 tie against hosts Germany. Matjaz Kek's side, meanwhile, secured their place in the knockout stages for the first time ever at a major tournament.

With hopes of a fast start from the Three Lions, it was Slovenia who registered the first effort as Benjamin Sesko saw his header comfortably gathered by Jordan Pickford. 

England thought they had taken the lead when Saka rounded off a slick attacking move, only to see what would have been his 12th international goal ruled out for offside.

Kieran Trippier came close to providing the opening goal, but his teasing delivery evaded both Conor Gallagher and Harry Kane inside the Slovenia penalty area. 

The introduction of Kobbie Mainoo for Gallagher at half-time aimed to add some attacking impetus, with his presence instantly sparking the absent pace from the England midfield. 

John Stones almost marked his 75th England appearance with a goal as he saw his header cleared off the line, with Marc Guehi unable to keep the loose ball alive. 

England continued to create a flurry of potential opportunities, with Declan Rice flashing an effort wide of Jan Oblak's goal and substitute Cole Palmer also seeing his effort repelled by Slovenia's number one. 

The result for Southgate's side confirmed Croatia's elimination from the tournament, with the full-time whistle greeted with frustration by the England support as Slovenia celebrated a remarkable achievement.

England yet to dazzle, but get the job done

With the expectations of England's plethora of attacking options possibly being enough to win the tournament on their own, it was yet another underwhelming display. 

A front three of Kane, Saka and Phil Foden managed just two shots on target between them, with the trio also managing just nine touches in Slovenia's penalty box. 

With much of the focus surrounding Jude Bellingham, the Los Blancos star was a shadow of the man who scored 23 goals for Real Madrid this season. 

The 20-year-old completed 86% of his 57 passes, the second-lowest of England's midfield behind Gallagher (85%) and an improvement will be needed regardless of whoever England's last-16 opponents end up being.

Resilient Slovenia get their rewards

Despite failing to win a game at Euro 2024, Slovenia proved difficult opponents for each of Group C's sides and have received their just rewards. 

Slovenia are now undefeated in their last 4 games in the Euros, their longest unbeaten streak in the competition (since at least 1992).

Kek's side can also take pride from maintaining their unbeaten record arriving into the tournament, and have now not tasted defeat in their last nine matches in all competitions (W4 D5), matching the longest ever unbeaten run in their history (9 games between September 2020 and March 2021).

It remains to be seen who awaits Slovenia in the next round, but they can take pride with their sensational achievement on the international stage. 

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