England top group at Euro 2024 and Slovenia also advance

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COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — England advanced to the knockout stage of Euro 2024 as group winner after a 0-0 draw against Slovenia on Tuesday.

The result at Cologne Stadium also saw Slovenia reach the round of 16 and Croatia were eliminated.

In a game of few chances, England substitute Cole Palmer could have sealed the win in stoppage time, but his shot was saved by Slovenia goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

England had already been assured of advancing but doing so as Group C winner means they will play one of the qualifying third-placed teams in the round of 16 and are on the opposite side of the draw to Spain, France, Germany and Portugal.

But it was another unconvincing performance from a team that went into the tournament as one of the favourites to be crowned European champion.

Gareth Southgate and his players have faced heavy criticism despite having already advanced before the final group game.

Their performance against Denmark was so uninspired that former captain and now BBC presenter Gary Lineker used an expletive to describe them in a brutal assessment.

Again England looked short of ideas and could have gone behind early on when Benjamin Sesko had a free header from inside the box. His effort lacked power and direction and was easily collected by keeper Jordan Pickford.

Bukayo Saka had a first-half goal ruled out for offside and Palmer came close late on, but England rarely looked like finding a winner.

England were a beaten finalist at the last Euros when they lost a penalty shootout to Italy and have not won a major tournament since their only triumph — the World Cup in 1966.

This was Slovenia’s first appearance at a Euros for 24 years and only the second time they had qualified for the tournament. They advanced to the knockout phase for the first time.

A masked Kylian Mbappé scored his first goal of the Euros, but France drew 1-1 with Poland to finish runner-up in Group D behind Austria, which beat the Netherlands 3-2.

Mbappé wore a protective mask after breaking his nose in France’s opening game against Austria and scored from the penalty spot. But Robert Lewandowski’s twice-taken spot kick gave already eliminated Poland their first point of the tournament.