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Sports : Jose Mourinho hails England display vs Croatia, believes they are ‘ready’ for glory at Euro 2020 as Three Lions get off to winning start thanks to Raheem Sterling

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Jose Mourinho believes England are ‘ready’ for glory at Euro 2020 as he hailed their display against Croatia.

Raheem Sterling scored his first goal at a major tournament to give the Three Lions a 1-0 victory in their opening match at a sun-soaked Wembley stadium on Sunday afternoon.

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Sterling wheels away in delight after his goal against Croatia

It was a strong performance from Gareth Southgate’s men as England won an opening game at a European Championship at the tenth time of asking.

The England boss was questioned before the game about his selection choices, opting to play with Kieran Trippier at left-back and leaving Jack Grealish on the bench, yet it proved an inspired choice.

“They are ready,” Mourinho told talkSPORT ahead of the match, declaring England have the talent to win a major tournament for the first time since 1966.

And in his post-match analysis he was even more confident about the Three Lions’ chances.

“The result is more than deserved,” said the former Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham manager.

“Everything was under control and that means a lot, especially for the first game, where people have a tendency to look to the previous results in Euros and World Cups. I think it was very positive.

Southgate got his team selection bang on

GETTY

Southgate got his team selection bang on

“Look at that squad and look at the work they have done for many years. (Jude) Bellingham, (Kalvin) Phillips have arrived recently but the others have years of national team (experience). They feel comfortable, they have more than a team, they have a group.

“They know what they are doing and you could even feel after 1-0 the way England played they were not emotional, they were not driven by let’s do a show here at Wembley.

“They were pragmatic, they were objective, keeping complete control of the situation.

“I was positive before the competition started and after this victory I am even more confident about the team.”

Mourinho was most impressed by the performance of Kalvin Phillips, with the Leeds star helping keep an excellent Croatia midfield quiet alongside Declan Rice and creating the winner for Sterling.

Asked who was his standout player against Croatia, Mourinho replied: “Kalvin Phillips. He is a player without international experience, he is not a player that arrives from Champions League and 25 caps in his pocket.

“He is a player that arrived last season from the Championship and he played the whole season in the most intense and difficult league in the world. He showed amazing personality.

Phillips was outstanding in just his ninth appearance for England

GETTY

Phillips was outstanding in just his ninth appearance for England

“Of course Rice was stable like he always is, but Phillips was more than stable. He showed that not just with the goal but also in the way he was pressing high, he was in a position side to side with Declan Rice but every time Modric or Kovacic were dropping, trying to go away from them, he was not afraid of pushing up and trying to press higher.

“I don’t remember him missing a pass in a building up area. He was very, very good. When you see one of these young guys appearing on the big stages and perform the way he did, it is fantastic.”

Harry Kane was quiet for England but Mourinho defended the striker, insisting his movement was key to England’s opener as he created space for Sterling to run in and score.

Mourinho also praised Southgate for selecting Sterling, although stressed he would still find a space in the starting XI for Jack Grealish, who was left on the bench.

“What happened to Vida was instead of giving cover to the position of Raheem’s run, he was chasing Harry’s movement,” explained the serial-winning manager, who will take charge of Roma next season.

“Harry without touching the ball did half the job. Of course Kalvin Phillips made the run, he was composed, he saw Harry’s movement, he didn’t pass the ball and then saw the space and played that ball.

“That is why I also feel the decision of the coaching staff to play Sterling was probably the correct decision because Harry needs these kind of players where he moves and attack spaces.

“I don’t change my mind. I think Grealish is a fantastic player and I think somehow he has to find a space for him sooner or later. But the decision to play Raheem was good – and we are all happy.”

talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 will have live commentary of EVERY game of Euro 2020. You won’t miss a thing as we bring you round the clock coverage, reaction and analysis from June 11-July 11. Listen online HERE.





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