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England and Slovenia advance to knockouts after goalless draw

Slovenia’s players celebrate qualifying for the knock-out stages on the pitch after the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C football match between England and Slovenia at the Cologne Stadium in Cologne on June 25, 2024. — AFP 

England and Slovenia advanced to the knockout stage of Euro 2024 after their Group C match ended in a 0-0 draw on Tuesday evening.

Gareth Southgate’s men finished with five points, having already qualified for the round of 16.

Slovenia, also advancing, ended up level on three points with Denmark, who drew 0-0 with Serbia. Despite identical goal differences, goals scored, and disciplinary records, Slovenia went through based on UEFA ranking, subject to confirmation.

England dominated possession in a match in Cologne but continued to struggle to break through Slovenia’s relentless defence. Harry Kane and Phil Foden forced easy saves from Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak, while Bukayo Saka had a goal ruled out for offside in the first half.

Despite the criticism, England’s five points were enough to see them through as group winners. They will face one of the best third-place finishers from Group D, E, or F in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday at 5 pm.

Southgate made one change to the starting XI, dropping Trent Alexander-Arnold in favour of Conor Gallagher. However, Gallagher was substituted at half-time.

A bright spark in the first half came when Bukayo Saka finished a well-worked movement, only for the goal to be disallowed due to Phil Foden being offside in the build-up. Captain Harry Kane and Gallagher missed a golden opportunity to put England ahead in the 40th minute.

While there was little to celebrate for England, Slovenia celebrated their qualification as one of the best third-place finishers. By drawing on Tuesday, England secured a place on the easier side of the tournament, avoiding France, Portugal, Spain, and Germany.

The Netherlands finished third in Group D and have impressed at times despite a surprise defeat to Austria. In Group E, Romania, Belgium, Slovakia, and Ukraine are all tied on three points, while the Czech Republic and Georgia are level on points in Group F.

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