England: 2 (Sterling, Kane)
Germany: 0 (nobody at all)
Well, that lifted the spirits a bit. And coming after the French being evicted by their alpine neighbours, it has meant quite a lot of alcoholic celebration in Liddle Towers. A deserved victory over Germany — who, contrary to popular belief, we do beat quite often. But not often when it really matters.
Credit to Southgate. I am no fan of the man, although he seems a decent and likeable chap. But he got it kind of right here. He is still determined to restrict the number of truly creative players (Sterling aside) in the England team to one. In the first half, Saka. In the second, Grealish. Saka faded badly after 30 minutes, at which point England devolved to the pass-it-back thing and we looked wanting. But whatever, the plan worked. In the second half, Grealish added precision and brilliance and was the provider for both goals. Would he have been as effective if he’d started? I think so. Southgate doesn’t. Given the result, you have to say Southgate got it right. Well done.
The first goal came from Raheem Sterling. There are some who cannot stand him, for various reasons. They are idiots. He is the best player England has had in 30 years. He had a ropey season for Manchester City. But he is still head and shoulders above the rest and maybe along with Xhaka of Switzerland, the most outstanding player in the tournament so far. Everything good that England did came from Sterling.
Germany really threatened only on the break — the way England used to play. We are still vulnerable to swift, attacking football. But a rather wonderful victory. My wife said, shortly after Harry Kane scored our second goal: 'Good. The Germans were very naughty in the war and need to be reminded.'
And France out! You can pass the ball too much. You can pass it so much that you forget the point of the game. Well done Switzerland. And now Ukraine or Sweden: on paper, a kindly tie. Except that they are two teams we have, historically, struggled to beat.