England edge Malta to secure top seeding at Euro 2024

England secure Euro 2024 top spot with hard-fought win against Malta

England secured a top seeding for Euro 2024 with a lackluster 2-0 home win against Malta, the weakest team in Group C, in a match that will not be fondly remembered by the unimpressed Wembley crowd.

For most of the game, Gareth Southgate's underwhelming side struggled to break down the 171st-ranked Maltese defense, relying on a fortuitous own goal by Enrico Pepe in the early stages to take the lead. England's performance was riddled with anxious moments as Malta threatened to equalize, and it was not until the 75th minute that captain Harry Kane doubled England's lead with his 62nd international goal, assisted by the lively Bukayo Saka. Declan Rice had an effort ruled out for offside late on, but it was too late to spark any real excitement among the crowd.

Despite the victory, England's fringe players failed to impress Southgate, missing the opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the starting lineup. England had already qualified for next year's tournament in Germany, and this win ensured they will finish top of Group C, regardless of the outcome of their final match against North Macedonia on Monday.

Varun Chaudhary

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