England top Group C despite another underwhelming performance at Euro 2024

England progressed to the European Championship knockout phase as Group C winners, but fans again expressed their frustration after Gareth Southgate’s side were held to a 0-0 draw by stubborn Slovenia.

The Euro 2020 runners-up have been widely criticised following an unconvincing start to a tournament they are among the favourites to win.

England bossed possession against well-drilled Slovenia but were unable to turn their dominance into a morale-boosting victory as Tuesday’s clash in Cologne ended goalless and with more groans.

However, this result coupled with the stalemate between Denmark and Serbia saw them top the pool, meaning they will face a third-placed side in the last 16 on Sunday.

Harry Kane wipes sweat off his forehead during England's game with Slovenia
Harry Kane failed to score for England (Martin Rickett/PA)

England – who were already assured of progress after Monday’s results – have to wait another day to find out who awaits them in Gelsenkirchen, where they return after a pair of frustrating draws.

The performance against Denmark was far more alarming than the one versus Slovenia, but the inability to break down the side 57th in FIFA’s world rankings is sure to be pored over in close detail.

Matjaz Kek’s team were happy to cede possession to England, who struggled for creativity and speed beyond an excellent team move that saw a Bukayo Saka goal ruled out for offside.

Boos at the break were followed by more palpable anger at the final whistle after England fans had stuck with their team as they pushed in the second half.

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.

A young England fan waves his England shirt above his head
A young England fan tried to rally the team (Bradley Collyer/PA)

This may be the outcome England wanted, but certainly not the reaction required as the manager stuck by his word and resisted major changes.

Conor 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.

Gareth Southgate speaks to Kobbie Mainoo during England's game with Slovenia
Gareth Southgate brought Kobbie Mainoo on at half-time (Martin Rickett/PA)

That well-worked move gave England encouragement as they patiently probed, with Jan Oblak stopping a hopeful Harry Kane pot shot before then denying a 30-yard Foden free-kick.

A beautiful right-footed cross from left-back Trippier just evaded Gallagher and Kane as half-time approached, with England largely defending their box well at the other end.

The lack of stoppage time was telling, as were the murmurs of discontent from some England fans.

Kobbie 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.

Gareth Southgate claps the England fans
England fans let Southgate know what they thought of the performance (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Fans grew in belief and volume as Slovenia continued to be squeezed, although a rare error from impressive Guehi brought a booking for hauling back Sporar.

Cole 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.