Raheem Sterling's first goal at a major tournament saw England get their Euro 2020 campaign off to a winning start, as they beat Croatia 1-0 at Wembley.
Having never won their opening game at a European Championship, England ended the wait to take a big step towards progression from Group D.
In stark contrast to their World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia in 2018, Gareth Southgate's side enjoyed a measure of control throughout, albeit Phil Foden's early strike against the upright was the closest they came until the 57th minute when Sterling broke his tournament duck.
Harry Kane squandered a great chance to double England's lead, but the Three Lions were not made to pay by an ineffective Croatia attack.
19 - Raheem Sterling has been directly involved in 19 goals in his last 17 England games (13 goals, 6 assists), while the Three Lions have won all 10 of the previous games he has scored in. Charm. #ENG #CRO #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/18sKNzeYee— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 13, 2021
The pre-match build up was dominated by whether fans at Wembley would boo the taking of the knee, but the vast majority of spectators seemed well on side with England's players ahead of kick-off.
They were almost celebrating a goal in the sixth minute – Foden's curling effort hitting the post at the culmination of a swift attack led by Sterling.
Dominik Livakovic subsequently had to parry away Kalvin Phillips' volley as Croatia failed to clear their lines amid constant pressure.
England failed to keep the momentum up, and the malaise continued into the second half until, just as the Wembley crowd seemed to grow anxious, the breakthrough arrived.
Phillips made an excellent run to inject pace into a move that looked to be going nowhere, with the Leeds United midfielder keeping his poise to find Sterling, whose first-time finish had too much power on it for Livakovic.
Kane seemed set to make it 2-0 from Mason Mount's cross soon after, only for Josko Gvardiol to do enough to block off the England captain, who tumbled into the woodwork.
Ante Rebic and Marcelo Brozovic lashed wide as Croatia rallied, though chances going begging for Mount and Sterling at the other end failed to lift the visitors, who lost a Euro opener for the first time.