England 0-0 Slovenia: Three Lions top Group C at Euro 2024 despite uninspiring goalless draw

England’s midfield again failed to impress (AFP via Getty Images)
England’s midfield again failed to impress (AFP via Getty Images)

England booked their place in the last-16 at Euro 2024 as winners of Group C, despite a hugely uninspiring 0-0 draw with Slovenia.

The Three Lions’ opponents on Sunday in Gelsenkirchen will be confirmed following the conclusion of the group-stage, with it likely to be the Netherlands. The nature of the draw means they cannot face any of Spain, France, Germany or Portugal until the final, though that feels incredibly premature on recent showings.

After two uninspiring performances to start the tournament, the pre-match talk from the England camp had been of a more front-footed approach, a performance to finally kick the campaign into gear.

That was not forthcoming in Cologne, as Gareth Southgate’s side once again toiled and failed to excite in attack. Bukayo Saka had a first-half effort ruled out for offside, finishing at the back post after arguably England’s best move of the the tournament, but there was very little beyond that.

Kobbie Mainoo was introduced at half-time to replace Conor Gallagher and Cole Palmer came on for his first appearance of the summer, but the Slovenian defence held firm in fairly comfortable fashion.

Supporters let Southgate know what they thought when he went over to applaud them at the end, with a couple of empty cups appearing to be aimed his way. This may be the outcome England wanted, but certainly not the reaction required.

Gallagher came in for makeshift midfielder Trent Alexander-Arnold but English sloppiness continued, with some passes going awry and Benjamin Sesko allowed space to get a weak header on Jordan Pickford's goal.

Kieran Trippier picked up an early booking and Marc Guehi took the sting out of a Andraz Sporar shot as a cumbersome start continued, with the 20th minute bringing the first flash of England quality.

Declan Rice met a Trippier pass with a first-time ball through to Phil Foden, but the forward had just mistimed his run so Saka's far post tap-in was ruled out.

Mainoo replaced Gallagher at the break, adding more creativity and urgency to midfield.

England were turning the screw as they began to ask different questions, with Slovenia doing well to stop a Foden free-kick finding Kane. Sesko stopped a John Stones effort on the line soon after.

Palmer came on for Saka as England pushed for a breakthrough, with Jaka Bijol booked for stopping a Kane opportunity. Rice flashed wide, Zan Karnicnik stopped Foden meeting a low Kane cross and Southgate turned to Alexander-Arnold and then Anthony Gordon in search of a winner.

Stoppage time saw Oblak save a low Palmer drive and Alexander-Arnold strike over from distance, then some full-time fury from the stands.

Additional reporting by PA Sport.