England expected much better and it was, indeed, an improvement on Friday night. That, though, was a very low bar.
The return of Harry Maguire and the inclusion of Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish gave England a significant lift. They looked a little bit more like a team to be reckoned with.
But there is still plenty to improve upon as England line up against one of the tournament heavyweights in the last 16 at Wembley next week.
Here, Sportsmail looks at five things we learned from England’s 1-0 win over Czech Republic…
England sealed top spot in Group D via a 1-0 victory over Czech Republic at Wembley
Gareth Southgate’s side take two wins and a draw into the Euro 2020 knockout stages
JACK’S THE LAD FOR ENGLAND
It was like the return from exile of a much-loved prince. Jack Grealish started for England! To equal amounts of relief and acclaim. And, suffice to say, Jack Grealish did pretty well for England.
Direct running at defenders turns out to be a thing. He worked hard, was diligent and, best of all, his run and cross led directly to the opening goal. All of this, from a midfield position.
That said, Southgate wasn’t about go mad. There were boos when he was withdrawn on 68 minutes so England could play more cautiously in the final 20 minutes, with a definite 4-3-3.
Jack Grealish looked bright in an attacking midfield role as he started the final Group D match
However, Grealish had done all that was asked of him, wasn’t undisciplined and though he played further forward than Bellingham, he wasn’t exactly the maverick No.10.
Most of his good work came down the left channel driving on and combining with Sterling.
With Mason Mount surely as good as out for the last 16 next week, he may have played his way into the starting eleven and Mount may now struggle to get back in.
PRESSING HOME THE ADVANTAGE
There was distinct change in England’s game plan, with a much more aggressive press from the forwards than before. At one point, even right back Kyle Walker was charging on to lead the press on Czech goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.
England’s pressing from the front was impressive and intense from the very first whistle
It helped that the Czech’s also were willing to engage, pressing high at times themselves and creating the space for England to exploit as opposed to Scotland and Croatia who were happy to sit deep.
This was much more a contest of two teams attempting to play. Walker positioned himself at right wing early on and Jordan’s Pickford’s distribution was quicker. Luke Shaw drove on so much more than Friday night and John Stones was noticeably more ambitious bringing the ball out while Harry Maguire’s distribution made a big difference.
The first half ball he drilled in through the midfield created that rarest of occasions, a chance for Harry Kane to get a strike on goal. All in all, it was a small step change for England from the lethargy of the opening games; a step change in the right direction
England have missed Harry Maguire’s distribution from the back and ball carrying skills
GARETH SOUTHGATE REALLY DOESN’T LIKE JADON SANCHO BUT, THEN AGAIN, BUKAYO SAKA IS VERY, VERY GOOD
Yes, he has a lot of attacking players. But Sancho’s end-of-season Bundesliga form and stats made him arguably England’s best attacking wide player, not sixth choice.
He would have been distraught to be bumped down the pecking order by a 19-year-old. And there was no sentiment in the early substitutions: Rashford got the first chance to come on.
When Sancho did get on, on 84 minutes, there were huge roars of support, suggesting the hipster Bundesliga crowd is no infiltrating the mainstream, though he had just the one chance to impress, driving into the box to help Rashford set up the disallowed Jordan Henderson goal.
England fans were finally treated to seeing Jadon Sancho on the pitch after two unused picks
That said, Bukayo Saka: what a game! His drive down the right unlocked the first goal. His speed was a menace to left back Jan Boril throughout, drawing free kicks and them the yellow card.
He’s making himself the preferred first change on the right. Sancho’s lack of time is bizarre but Gareth Southgate isn’t completely mad.
He’s clearly seeing something in training that justifies Saka’s inclusion.
Sancho replaced the impressive Bukayo Saka (right) for England’s last substitution on Tuesday
FROM SET PIECE KINGS TO SUNDAY LEAGUE
From being the set-piece kings at Russia 2018, England are looking Sunday League here. It’s all a bit ‘stick it in the box and see if a big man can on the end of it.’ Not the most sophisticated. Often as not, the delivery isn’t even beating the first man.
Against Scotland, Mason Mount found John Stones for the header that hit the post but that’s pretty much the only time England have looked dangerous. It didn’t help that neither Mount nor Kieran Trippier were on the pitch (though Mount’s corners were poor against Scotland after that initial one).
England’s set piece delivery has been poor after it being their main source of goals in 2018
Kalvin Phillips and Luke Shaw struggled with poor deliveries. Set pieces were so important to the England game plan in Russia that this looks like a big fail at present.
It probably reflects the difference in preparation time before Russia (three weeks) and the Euros (six days).
But against Portugal, France or Germany in the last 16, they can’t afford to be lacking in this department. With Mount likely out, Trippier’s return surely beckons.
THE (VERY CONSERVATIVE) FRENCH REVOLUTION
In their post Russia 2018 debrief, Steve Holland and Southgate vowed to learn the lessons of semi-final defeat and upgrade their understanding of tournament football.
England are becoming adept at winning matches by a slender margin like in Tuesday’s tie
You can’t help feeling one of the principal learnings was the Didier Deschamps mantra of never getting carried away with having an impressive array of attacking talent.
For Deschamps in 2018, there was the spectacular 4-3 Argentina game and the 4-2 win in the final, but, given the players at his disposal, it was essentially a cautious approach that won France the World Cup.
The building blocks of victory were 1-0 and 2-1 wins. They were happy to concede possession and play on the break. They felt no obligation to entertain.
It is a similar move to that of France when they won the World Cup in 2018 using slender wins
This now feels like an inherently more cautious England set up, less inclined to take a risk, more than happy to defend a lead. Three clean sheets tells its own impressive story.
But it’s not just Harry Kane who isn’t firing. England don’t look a formidable attacking force. The midfield looks safe rather than scintillating.
Is this just a ploy to navigate the opening rounds? England will need more than this to get past France, Portugal or Germany.