Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford delivered another faultless display as England beat Czech Republic 1-0 on Tuesday night to secure top spot in Euro 2020 Group D.
Pickford recorded a third consecutive clean sheet in the Wembley Stadium clash, with the game settled by Raheem Sterling’s 12th-minute header.
Toffees striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin was an unused substitute for England, who will play the runners-up of qualification Group F – who will be determined on Wednesday night – in the first knockout round.
England controlled the early stages of the game against Czech Republic, dominating possession and constantly asking questions of the opposition defence.
The Three Lions’ superiority meant Pickford’s first meaningful contribution came in the 27th minute when Tomas Holes took aim from 25 yards. His strike was powerful and accurate but Pickford made a fine diving stop to repel the midfielder’s effort.
Pickford’s quality and composure on the ball was also evident throughout – and he helped launch an England attack with a beautiful long-range lofted pass to Jack Grealish shortly before half-time.
The Aston Villa man subsequently picked out Harry Kane, who was then inches away from setting the lively Bukayo Saka through on goal with a threaded through ball.
Czech Republic enjoyed more of the play in the second half, without causing Pickford too much alarm. He was called into action on the hour mark with West Ham United full-back Vladamir Coufal whipped in a swerving and inviting cross aimed at in-form striker Patrik Schick. Pickford was alert and decisive, however, and punched the ball clear.
Pickford continued to confidently command his penalty area in the game’s final stages as England saw out the win with little fuss.
The Three Lions’ last-16 tie will be hosted at Wembley on Tuesday 29 July.