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England get Euros campaign off to strong start with 1-0 victory over Serbia

England's Jude Bellingham, right, is challenged by Serbia's Sasa Lukic during a Group C match between Serbia and England in Gelsenkirchen, June 16, 2024
England's Jude Bellingham, right, is challenged by Serbia's Sasa Lukic during a Group C match between Serbia and England in Gelsenkirchen, June 16, 2024 Copyright Alessandra Tarantino/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Alessandra Tarantino/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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Riot police in Germany intervened to stop brawling soccer fans before Sunday’s match.

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Jude Bellingham scored to give England a winning start at the European Championship by beating Serbia 1-0.

The Real Madrid star put Gareth Southgate's team in front with a stooping header in the 13th minute at the Veltins Arena from Bukayo Saka's cross.

England fans were soon celebrating once the game got underway after Bellingham's early goal.

Harry Kane very nearly extended the lead in the second half when Serbia goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic pushed his far post header onto the underside of the bar.

England fans celebrate at the end of the Group C match against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, June 16, 2024
England fans celebrate at the end of the Group C match against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, June 16, 2024Alessandra Tarantino/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

Kane set a record for his country by making his 23rd appearance at a major tournament.

Victory sent England to the top of Group C after Denmark drew 1-1 with Slovenia in an earlier game, with Christian Eriksen scoring three years after suffering a cardiac arrest on the field at the last Euros. England plays Denmark on Thursday.

Concerns over violence

Concerns about violence between rival supporters had overshadowed the build-up to the game.

Some of those fears were realised when police rushed in to separate brawling fans in Gelsenkirchen earlier in the day.

Social media footage showed men throwing chairs at each other outside a restaurant adorned with Serbian flags in the western city of Gelsenkirchen. One group quickly left as riot officers arrived and wrestled at least one man to the ground.

Gelsenkirchen police said in a statement that officers intervened to stop a confrontation between Serbian and English fans.

“Riot police were deployed and separated the two fan camps. They took seven Serbian supporters into custody and filed a criminal complaint for grievous bodily harm,” the statement said.

There was no immediate information about injuries.

The Euro 2024 match between England and Serbia was classified as high risk by police over concerns about potential fan violence. Both sets of supporters have a reputation for causing trouble before and during matches.

About 20,000 England fans and 10,000 from Serbia were expected to converge on the city for the game. Only low-alcohol beer is being served in the Gelsenkirchen stadium to reduce the potential for problems.

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