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Sterling 'trying' to justify selection after England winner against Croatia extends unbeaten Wembley record

16:31 BST 13/06/2021
Raheem Sterling England vs Croatia Euro 2020
The Manchester City winger has been out of form at club level in front of goal this season, but says he only seeks to repay the international faith

Raheem Sterling says that he remains only "trying" to justify his international selection after scoring the winner in England's Euro 2020 opener against Croatia, in a 1-0 triumph to extend his unbeaten record at Wembley Stadium.

The Manchester City forward has arguably struggled to find form at domestic level over the past season, but continued to repay Gareth Southgate's faith in his talents after firing the Three Lions to victory in their Group D clash.

It marked Sterling's first goal in a major tournament at the fourth time of asking, having failed to deliver at Brazil 2014, France 2016 and Russia 2018, and speaking after the full-time whistle, the winger acknowledged that while his club exploits may be lacking, he remains firmly dedicated to delivering on the biggest stages for his country.

What has been said?

"I've always said if I play at Wembley in a major tournament, in my back garden, I'm scoring," Sterling told BBC Sport. "It's great to finally do that.

"To be honest, I always said to myself if I come here, growing up two minutes down the road, I know I have to score here. It was a great feeling to actually do it.

"There's different reasons why I haven't scored for my club, but it's irrelevant now. I'm here with England, I'm enjoying my football and I'm happy to score.

"Have I justified my selection? I'm trying [to do so]."

Sterling continues Wembley record

Sterling's finish, set up by a superb assist from Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips, saw him not only extend his superb scoring run for the Three Lions but set a new national record in the process.

England have claimed victory in every international in which Sterling has found the back of the net, with 11 games in total, a 100% per cent record that sees him overhaul former Southampton and Tottenham man Martin Chivers in the history books.

It also extended his unbeaten record at Wembley when playing for England.

Sterling vows to carry momentum forward

The 26-year-old added that England must remain vigilant ahead of further tests against Scotland and the Czech Republic on home soil at this year's pan-European tournament - but that the squad will take time to savour a win against the side who ended their World Cup journey at Russia 2018 three years ago in the semi-finals.

"It's a great feeling. It was the first game and we needed a win. We stuck together. We headed the ball when we needed to, cleared it when we needed to and played some good football at times. I thought the boys were brilliant.

"We need to try to build on it and enjoy today. We have to focus. It's early days. We need to keep winning, have that winning mentality and keep going forward."

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