How Kalvin Phillips made twenty-year Leeds United assist history for England but UEFA choose alternative Star of the Match

LEEDS United midfielder Kalvin Phillips impressed both on the eye and on the figures on his major international tournament debut for England against Croatia.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 1:19 pm

Phillips was showered with praise from all around the globe following his display in Sunday's Group D opener as the Three Lions began their quest for European Championships glory at Wembley.

The 25-year-old has excelled as a central defensive midfielder under head coach Marcelo Bielsa but was deployed in a more advanced role in the middle of the park by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate against Croatia.

Instead, West Ham's Declan Rice filled the 'CDM' position as Phillips was given licence to attack and played almost as a no 8 in tandem with Chelsea's Mason Mount who is generally recognised as a no 10.

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It was through Phillips getting forward that England scored their only goal of the game as the Whites midfielder beat two men in the final third before sending in a precise through ball for Raheem Sterling who applied the finish in the 57th minute.

It meant Phillips becoming the first Leeds player to provide an England assist since Lee Bowyer's cross led to Alan Smith heading home against Portugal in the 1-1 international friendly draw of September 2002.

Competitively, United's last England assist came from Rio Ferdinand in the 5-1 victory at Germany in the World Cup qualifier of September 2001.

Prior to that, David Batty bagged one in the 6-0 win against Luxembourg in a Euros qualifier of September 1999.

IN THE WAY: Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, left, battles for possession with Croatia's Marcelo Brozovic during Sunday's Euro 2020 Group D opener at Wembley. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.
IN THE WAY: Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, left, battles for possession with Croatia's Marcelo Brozovic during Sunday's Euro 2020 Group D opener at Wembley. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.

But the visual impression was that Phillips excelled in his all round game and that is backed up by an impressive set of figures.

Amazingly, Phillips was successful with all 18 of his attempted passes in the first half which he ended as the only player on the pitch with a 100 per cent passing completion rate.

Two passes then went astray in the second half but Phillips ended the game with 31 of his 33 attempted passes being successful for a success rate of 94 per cent.

That was one per cent better than Croatia's star man Luka Modric and Phil Foden was the only England player with a better passing success rate of 95 per cent but Foden only attempted 22 passes and was taken off in the 71st minute.

Phillips was also responsible for the game's only shot on target in the first half as his sweet volley from the edge of the box following a cleared corner was just about saved.

The Whites midfielder only had 44 touches of the ball whereas Modric had 80 - the most in the game - but Phillips was extremely economical when he had the ball and also proved a huge problem when Croatia looked to attack.

Phillips was only successful with one of his five attempted tackles but regularly broke up possession including with clever, niggly fouls that were hailed in commentary by Jermaine Jenas.

Phillips even managed to escape a yellow card as part of a game in which Foden was the only Three Lions player booked.

During BBC's coverage of the game, Jenas, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Alan Shearer and host Gary Lineker all agreed that Phillips was the man of the match yet UEFA gave their Star of the Match award to Sterling.

The Manchester City player also excelled and ultimately proved the difference between the two sides - but only thanks to a brilliant Phillips assist as part of a display in which it would be pretty impossible not to award at least a 9 out of 10.

At least he got the England man of the match award!

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Thank you Laura Collins