Euro Watch: Serbia Dominates Sweden, Denmark Advancing Through, Slovenia’s Strong Record, England’s Group C Competitors Finish Strong

Euro Watch: Serbia Dominates Sweden, Denmark Advancing Through, Slovenia’s Strong Record, England’s Group C Competitors Finish Strong

This is how you prepare for a major tournament. Not stuttering to a lame 1-0 defeat at home to Iceland like England but with a fanfare and a flourish.

Serbia showed Gareth Southgate’s side how it’s done with a rampant 3-0 victory over Sweden courtesy of goals from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Tadic.

It took Serbia 18 minutes to break the deadlock at the Friends Arena in Stockholm as legendary Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic watched on from the stands.

Milinkovic-Savic met Andrija Zivkovic’s cross at the back post to head Dragan Stojkovic’s side in front.

A man followers of English football know only too well bagged the second. Former Fulham and Newcastle striker Mitrovic, who joined Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal last summer, buried a low shot into the bottom corner on the hour mark. Serbia’s all-time leading goalscorer looks like giving England’s shaky backline much to worry about in their group opener on Sunday, June 16.

Dusan Tadic scored the third of three goals for Serbia against Sweden in their final game 

Serbia will be the first challenge for England at the European Championship on Sunday, June 16

Serbia will be the first challenge for England at the European Championship on Sunday, June 16

Former Southampton and Ajax playmaker Tadic wrapped things up 10 minutes later when he rifled a shot into the top corner.

 

Denmark gave England a fright in the semi-finals three years ago and showed they will be no pushovers on June 20 either with a 3-1 win over neighbours Norway.

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Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Jannik Vestergaard and Yussuf Poulsen scored for Kasper Hjulmand’s side while Erling Haaland, naturally, found the net for Norway.

Tottenham midfielder Hojbjerg have Denmark the lead after 12 minutes, firing his low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Vestergaard, a day after signing a new contract at promoted Leicester, jumped highest at a corner to nod in Denmark’s second in the 21st minute. Man City striker Haaland thought he’d pulled one back in the 65th minute only for VAR to chalk it off for an offside in the build-up.

Neither Denmark’s defence or the officials could do anything seven minutes later, though, when Haaland latched on to a glorious through ball from Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard, rounded the keeper, and dinked the ball into the net.

It was Denmark, though, who finished strongest as Victor Kristiansen pounced on a poor pass from Norway goalkeeper Orjan Nyland in stoppage time and picked out Yussuf Poulsen for a simple third.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (left) was on target in Denmark's 3-0 win against Norway ahead of the Euros

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (left) was on target in Denmark’s 3-0 win against Norway ahead of the Euros

 

England’s final group opponents Slovenia rounded off their preparations with a 1-1 home draw against Bulgaria.

Both goals came early in the first half at the Stozice Stadium in Ljubljana as winger Kiril Despodov gave Bulgaria the lead from the penalty spot after four minutes only for Panathinaikos forward Andraz Sporar to level 10 minutes later.

Matjaz Kek’s side handed Bulgaria the ideal start when Udinese centre-back Jaka Bijol brought down Despodov in the box who then stepped up to slot his penalty past Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

The hosts responded well and their pressure told in the 14th minute when Sporar netted his 11th goal for his country.

Arsenal target Benjamin Sesko went close but could not convert a promising opportunity in the Bulgaria box.

Slovenia's star goalkeeper Jan Oblak will be hoping to be a frustrating obstacle to Harry Kane

Slovenia’s star goalkeeper Jan Oblak will be hoping to be a frustrating obstacle to Harry Kane

Oblak will hope to prove a frustrating obstacle for Harry Kane and England on June 25 and was called upon here to deny Despodov making it two.

This may only be Slovenia’s second Euros campaign and they head into it as underdogs but Kek’s side have lost just twice in the last 12 months. Don’t take them for granted.

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