HomeBetting TipsJude Bellingham Helps England to Victory Against Serbia

Jude Bellingham Helps England to Victory Against Serbia

Euro 2024 is fully underway and has lived up to the hype. Hosts Germany put the world on notice with a rampant attacking display against Scotland in the opening game. Spain followed suit with a convincing win over Croatia while defending champions Italy began their chase for consecutive continental crowns with a win against Albania.

England, billed as one of the favorites to win, also secured all three points in their group-stage opener against Serbia. The match in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, ended 1-0 in favor of England thanks to a brilliant header from Champions League winner Jude Bellingham. Despite a rather underwhelming affair, Gareth Southgate will be pleased with the result as his side hopes to win their first European Championship title. England is in the top spot after Denmark’s draw against Slovakia and hopes to be in their best shape as the tournament progresses.

Bellingham Gives England the Early Lead

Fans were eager to get their hands on England tickets for their opening game against Serbia, and the Three Lions repaid spectators with a fine start. Gareth Southgate’s men got an early lead, with Real Madrid’s talisman in the spotlight yet again. The 20-year-old Champions League winner snuck past the Serbian defense after teammate Bukayo Saka’s cross was deflected to beat Predrag Rajkovic. The English crowd erupted with chants of “Hey Jude” as they cheered on their goalscorer.

At 20 years and 353 days old, Bellingham’s goal made him the third youngest player to score for the Three Lions at the Euros, behind Wayne Rooney, who was 18 years and 237 days when he scored in Euro 2004, and Michael Owen, who also opened his scoring campaign in the same tournament at 20 years and 189 days.

Serbia’s first real chance came in the 25th minute as Gareth Southgate’s men almost paid the price for shoddy play at the back. Alexander-Arnold failed to keep a pass from Declan Rice, and the Serbian attack pounced on the error, delivering the ball to their target man Aleksandar Mitrovic, but he failed to hit the target.

Aside from Mitrovic’s warning shot, the first half was mostly England’s as they dominated much of the play, maintaining 55% of the possession. Kyle Walker nearly added to the scoring in the 25th minute after receiving a brilliant pass from Saka on the right wing. The Manchester City defender used his pace to fend off pressure from Strahinja Pavlovic before bending a low ball towards goal, but his shot rolled across the post. 

The Eagles made their first change of the match, bringing on Filip Mladenović to replace Filip Kostić in the 43rd minute, but England went into the break with a much-deserved lead. It was a stale first half, however, with Bellingham’s header being the only shot on target.

Serbia Dominates in the Second Half

The Eagles began the second period by bringing on Ivan Ilić for Nemanja Gudelj to start the half. They were the far better side after the break, testing England’s Jordan Pickford twice. 

Dragan Stojković made a double substitution in the 61st minute as Aleksandar Mitrovic made way for Dušan Tadic, and Luka Jović replaced Saša Lukić. The two substitutes almost combined to give Serbia the equalizer five minutes later, as Tadic’s incredible ball control beat Kieran Trippier and Declan Rice. The former Ajax man slipped a pass-through for the open Jović, but Pickford was there to pick up the pieces.

A short stint of substitutions ensued; Trent Alexander-Arnold was subbed off for Conor Gallagher in the 69th minute as England struggled to keep up with the pace. Serbia also responded with a substitution as Veljko Birmančević replaced Andrija Živković in the 74th minute, while England’s Bukayo Saka made way for Jarrod Bowen in the 76th minute. 

Harry Kane nearly scored in the 77th minute, beating Miloš Veljkovic in the air to receive a sublime cross from Bowen, but Predrag Rajković tipped his header off the crossbar to keep Serbia alive. It was Pickford’s turn to make the save in the 83rd minute after a stunning Dušan Vlahovic strike from 22 yards out. Kane took on some defensive duties late in the game as he headed out another superb shot from Birmančević. 

The game ended with England seeing off a nervous second half to secure all three points. England are yet to lose a game at the Euros after leading at halftime since their 2-1 loss to France at Euro 2004. The Three Lions have also won all four opening games in major tournaments under Southgate. They have also kept a clean sheet in each of their last five group-stage games, becoming the first nation in European Championship history to achieve this feat. 

England’s Struggles in Attack

Harry Kane endured a frustrating night in front of goal, with the header being his only shot on target. Serbia’s defense did a good job pocketing the Bundesliga Golden Boot winner, holding him to just 24 touches, and stripping him off the ball five times.

It was another poor display from Premier League Player of the Year Phil Foden, who struggled in an England shirt yet again. The Man City attacking midfielder lost possession of the ball 10 times and failed to register a single shot. Former City player Micah Richards was left frustrated after the tie and criticized Gareth Southgate for playing Foden out of position. “It works for Man City if he plays on the right or the left or the No. 10 because of the rotation,” the CBS pundit said. “With Foden, it’s so disheartening to see a player of that quality being played out of position,” he continued. 

Next Matches

England will take on a familiar foe as they face Denmark on June 20. The tie is a rematch of the Euro 2020 semi-final, which England won 2-1. Thanks to Denmark’s draw against Slovenia in their opening fixture, the Three Lions will qualify for the Round of 16 and secure the top spot in Group C with a win on Thursday. 

Serbia are bottom of the group and will hope to bounce back with a win against Slovenia the same day. The Eagles will go into their next tie with a lot of confidence, following an encouraging second display against England. A win could see them leap to second if Denmark loses, but a draw or loss could potentially put their chances of making it to knockout rounds to the sword.

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