The Manchester City winger scored his second goal of the tournament as Gareth Southgate’s side beat the Czech Republic to progress to the knockout stage as unbeaten group winners.
It means they will face Hungary or one of the continent's powerhouses depending on the final standings in Group F, but Sterling believes England must embrace the challenge of meeting such strong opposition early in the tournament.
“The most important thing was to win the group,” he said.
“It is tournament football and it will be difficult but we need to do what we are doing.
"At some point you have to face the best teams. It is about challenging yourselves."
Having been frustrated by Scotland last time out, England showed signs of improvement against the Czechs, impressing with added attacking impetus in a first half in which the woodwork prevented Sterling from doubling his tally.
Much of the attack flair was provided by Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka, both brought into the side as Southgate made four changes and City’s No.7 was full of praise for the two men who were instrumental in creating his goalscoring opportunity.
“I think there are positives from the game,” he added.
“We kept the ball better today. It gave us more attacking options. We got in the gaps really well, played some good football and got the goal we needed.
"Jack and Bukayo got in the pockets really well, turned and were positive. It is brilliant to have these players around you who can create goals.
“Different players are needed for different games and those two that came in were massive and did what they needed to do.”