Gareth Southgate was pleased to guide England to win in their first European Championship match – but he swiftly switched his mind to Friday’s contest against Scotland.
Three years after losing in the World Cup semi-final to Croatia, the Three Lions got their revenge by giving Zlatko Dalic’s side a bloody nose at the opening of Euro 2020.
In high temperatures, Raheem Sterling’s first tournament goal – and England’s first at Wembley in front of fans since November 2019 – was enough to secure a 1-0 triumph.
It was a fantastic start to Group D, but Southgate is well aware that the problems are far from over, with Scotland facing England at Wembley on Friday night.
“This is the big challenge for us now because of course we’re delighted with the win and the players are happy,” the former defender said.
“It’s a positive step in terms of qualification, but one of the hardest things in sport is to come back to that point you were at before the kick-off for the next game.
“You can get a bit of a glow of the win and a bit soft, a bit puddingy when you poke your finger in the belly.
“We’ve got to make sure that we’re ready for what is going to be an incredible game against Scotland and a huge challenge.
“We should enjoy tonight because I think you have to enjoy your wins, especially in tournaments, but focus now.
“Our first objective is qualification. We haven’t done that yet and we have a very important game for us and our fans on Friday night.”
England won their first match of the season thanks to Sterling’s goal, and Southgate was thrilled to send the fans home happy.
“It feels great to have been able to send the fans home happy and to have fans up and down the country happy,” the England manager said. “That’s very special.
“In terms of the game, I was really pleased with the way we settled so quickly.
“Some young players, some inexperienced international players, a big occasion – not only a tough opponent but a big occasion, a sweltering hot day.
“Every reason to potentially look nervous at the start but they didn’t.
“With and without the ball they were composed, carried out what we wanted to do in terms of pressing brilliantly.”
Although England leads Group D, Southgate knows that complacency shouldn’t be allowed to set in before their match against Scotland on Friday.
After a few days of buzz and anticipation, England will return to Wembley Stadium to face Scotland.
“I think the pressure is what we decide it to be,” Southgate said. “We’ve talked about this as a group.
“We have opportunities to be first to do things. I didn’t realise today was our first win in an opening game, so that’s something they’ve managed to achieve that no other team has done.”