Six things we learned from England's morale-boosting 1-0 win over Croatia

Sunburn? Check! Troubling day-drinking hangover? You betcha! Three points in the bag? Yes indeed!

England got their Euro 2020 campaign off to the perfect start on Sunday afternoon, as they picked up a vital win and a clean sheet with an encouraging 1-0 win over Croatia at Wembley Stadium.

Gareth Southgate's side made history by becoming the first England team to win their opening European Championship game, as they took down a toothless Croatia side who provoked continuous "wheeeeey!" jeers from the rowdy home support as the misplaced passes and wildly skewed shots continued to stack up.

It was a refreshing change from the usual angst-ridden experience of watching England embark on a major tournament campaign, which usually involves howling with anguish at a desperately disjointed-looking team as they stumble their way about like a flock of fluffy seagull chicks who've just tumbled from the nest.

Six things we learned from England's morale-boosting 1-0 win over CroatiaSix things we learned from England's morale-boosting 1-0 win over Croatia
Six things we learned from England's morale-boosting 1-0 win over Croatia

The 2018 World Cup finalists failed to give goalkeeper Jordan Pickford any real cause for concern, and were comfortably held at arm's length by a well-drilled defensive unit.

Here's our round-up of the six things we learned from yesterday's big win:

Wembley can be England's Euro 2020 fortress

While it was far from a capacity crowd, England fans still made plenty of noise throughout the game, which provided a real boost as they roared the team forward in the searing north London heat.

Should the Three Lions top the group, they'll have a tricky game awaiting them against one of the big boys of Group F - most likely Germany, Portugal or France - but the advantage of playing that game on home turf would be a huge boost for a side who have lost at home just twice in five years.

Yesterday’s game was played in sweltering heat, but not having to travel to parts of Europe with some serious temperaturescould be another important factor going in England’s favour. It does also mean, however, we probably can’t use the weather as an excuse – a tried and tested classic for the nation’s sporting calamities - if it all goes pear-shaped.

Kalvin Phillips could be England's surprise package

You can imagine Leeds fans were feeling a little smug when Kalvin Phillips picked up his MOTM award, having banged on about their academy product’s Andrea Pirlo-esque talents for quite some time.

In all fairness, he was absolutely top class, and his performance made a mockery of those dubious of England operating with the old 'defensive double pivot', as he put in a barnstorming masterclass in which he constantly harassed Croatia's ageing midfield and provided a dazzling assist for Sterling's goal - bombing forward, beating two players before playing a perfectly-weighted through ball for his teammate fire home.

Solid midfield partnerships are often the foundation of success in tournament football, and the Phillips-Rice combination is showing signs of blossoming at exactly the right time for England.

Tyrone Mings can prove the doubters wrong

After a couple of unconvincing, down right shaky performances in the pre-tournament friendlies, protestations to Mings' involvement in the tournament were up there with Nicolas Cage's infamous, hysterical shrieks of "Not the bees!" when meeting his grizzly end in the 2006 remake of 'The Wicker Man'

Sure, he - Mings, not Cage - hit a fair few aimless passes up the field which we could have done without, but in general he put in exactly the kind of disciplined, reliable performance England's defenders so often fail to deliver in the high-pressure environment of major tournament matches.

He's made an excellent case for starting against Scotland on Friday, after rising to the challenge of replacing first-choice centre-back Harry Maguire with aplomb.

We all need to just trust in Gareth

Gareth Southgate took the mother of all social media batterings when that left-field team selection trickled through, with Kieran Trippier being farmed out on the left side of a back four, and the inclusion of both Sterling and Mings causing a good deal of disgruntlement for fans and pundits alike.

Even the coach's most loyal supporters raised their eyebrows, but, boy, did he prove each and every one of us wrong.

Most importantly, he kept the faith in Sterling when so many were ready to abandon him for a shiny new replacement, and was richly rewarded for the gamble.

You sense Southgate will continue to roll the dice this summer, and it's best just to let him get on with it - the man clearly knows what he's doing.

Five subs could see England go a long way

Looking at the two benches, the strength in depth boasting in England's ranks compared to their opponents was startling.

In the end, brief cameo appearances from teenage sensation Jude Bellingham, Marcus Rashford and Dominic Calvert-Lewin were all we saw off the bench yesterday, as England looked to avoid becoming disjointed.

However, when, inevitably, England have to chase a game, their formidable stockpile of attacking talent could cause chaos for rival defences in the latter stages of matches.

Any opposition manager aware that a fully rested, champing at the bit Jadon Sancho or Jack Grealish is waiting in the wings will not be having a relaxing time on the touchline, that’s for sure!

'Three Lions' will never lose its magic

Yes, Scotland can certainly boogie. And Wales undoubtedly have a tune or two in the locker. But, c'mon! 'Three Lions' is a certified, stone-cold classic which never gets old - that said, every other nation is sick to death of hearing about football supposedly coming home.

Nonetheless, from an England perspective, hearing the country's iconic Euro '96 anthem belted out in the Wembley sunshine once again, albeit in a different stadium, was footballing nostalgia at its finest, and long may it continue!