Kalvin Phillips' challenge on Kai Havertz cheered like a goal as Leeds United man makes history with England win

When Kalvin Phillips left Kai Havertz on the Wembley turf for the second time in the space of 45 first half minutes, they cheered it like a goal in Leeds.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 12:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 12:48 pm
NEW CHAPTER - Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips and Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane embrace after writing a new chapter in England's major tournament history with Germany. Pic: Getty
NEW CHAPTER - Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips and Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane embrace after writing a new chapter in England's major tournament history with Germany. Pic: Getty

Leeds United's midfielder made the people of his home city thump their puffed out chests with pride in pubs, back gardens and living rooms as he made history in England's 2-0 Euro 2020 win over Germany.

Only the third Leeds player to start a knockout game in a European Championships and the first Englishman since Norman Hunter in 1968, he became the first of the club's players to win a knockout game at a Euros since the tournament's 1960 inception.

And if that doesn't sufficiently explain just how special a night it was for the Armley lad, his performance, the identity of the opposition and the individuals in their midfield will do.

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A lot of the pre-game talk surrounded World Cup, Champions League, Bundesliga and La Liga winner Toni Kroos, a 'world class' operator in Phillips' own words and a player expected to dictate play in the centre of the park alongside another Champions League winner in Bayern Munich's Leon Goretzka.

Yet faced with such quality, pedigree and class, Phillips and Declan Rice more than held their own.

In fact, as the game developed, it appeared to dawn on the England duo just how capable they were of playing against the German midfield.

It seemed to hit Phillips earlier than his midfield partner, the Leeds man visibly growing in confidence over the course of the first half, while Rice began to elaborate in possession and venture further forward after the break.

Phillips shone in the first 45 minutes, keeping it simple in the initial quarter of an hour, when there were no real opportunities to turn and play forward.

Out of possession he worked hard to try and shut Germany down, England packing the middle of the park having looked a little too open in the very first minutes of the fixture.

As minutes ticked away, Phillips began to exert more influence, his first forward burst on the right flank ending when Kieran Trippier was unable to complete the one-two.

Next came the first big tackle on Havertz that delighted the home fans in the 40,000 Wembley crowd and countless others in West Yorkshire.

A lovely chipped pass into space behind the left side of the German defence gave Trippier time to pick out Harry Maguire with a decent cross, the Manchester United man heading wide.

Another good ball from the boots bearing a tribute to Phillips' beloved late Granny Val freed Raheem Sterling, whose low ball into the area was cleared.

Phillips began to demand the ball more vehemently, finding his voice and his rhythm and performing higher up the pitch.

Having got involved on the right wing again, trying to get to the byline, he sprinted back when possession was turned over and rescued the situation with an even more aggressive tackle that sent Havertz sailing through the air.

And before the half was done he was bursting through the middle with a run in behind to try and give Harry Kane a target, as the striker turned to play the ball forward, albeit too far ahead of the Leeds man.

The last action of the half was a tackle on Kroos that left the German limping and Phillips on the same tightrope as the earlier-booked Rice, Dutch referee Danny Makkelie flashing the yellow due to the studs-up nature of the stoppage time challenge.

Phillips' second half was all about work. He tracked runs, darted into space away from the ball to lead German players away from his England team-mates and although his time in the opposition half was more limited, he did what was required.

He and Rice provided a solid platform from which the attackers could go and do their thing, which they did clinically, twice.

Once England had that two-goal cushion Phillips and his fellow defenders threw themselves at every pass and cross in desperate search of a fourth consecutive clean sheet.

The final whistle was as welcome in Leeds as it was inside Wembley and by being on the pitch to hear it, Phillips maintained his ever-present record at his first major tournament. Every minute played, no goals conceded, history made and another step taken towards English footballing folklore.

The Germans are out and Kroos, among others might now retire from international football. Kalvin Phillips of Leeds United and England is just getting started.