Ukraine 0-4 England: Three Lions cruise into Euro 2020 semi-finals as Harry Kane scores twice either side of Harry Maguire’s header before Jordan Henderson nets first international goal as Gareth Southgate’s men set up meeting with Denmark at Wembley
- Harry Kane put England ahead against Ukraine in Rome after poking home Raheem Sterling’s sublime pass
- They had chances to extend their lead before Harry Maguire headed home Luke Shaw’s brilliant free-kick
- The Manchester United left-back then provided again, with his cross met perfectly by Kane for his second
- Jordan Henderson came off the bench to net his first England goal, heading home Mason Mount’s corner
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here
Football came home on Saturday night and England sat next to it on the plane back to Birmingham. In an evening of magic in the sultry heat of the Stadio Olimpico, England turned their first and only trip away from Wembley at Euro 2021 into an enchanted Roman holiday that carried them back to England full of dreams that footballing immortality awaits them.
After they swept Ukraine aside 4-0 with a dazzling display of brilliant football to move into their second successive semi-final, they know that only two matches stand between them and a first trophy in a major tournament for 56 years. Denmark, a team riding a wave of emotion, await them on Wednesday night. If England get past that, they will face Spain or Italy in the final.
England were irresistible on Saturday night. Harry Kane scored twice, Harry Maguire added another and Jordan Henderson headed his first goal for his country. There were outstanding performances from Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling in particular. But then the whole team played as if they were possessed by a belief that this is their moment. This was England’s seventh successive game without conceding a goal, a new national record.
England will play Denmark in the semi-finals of Euro 2020 next week after sweeping Ukraine aside in their quarter-final
Harry Kane gave England the lead after poking home following fabulous work from Raheem Sterling who provided the assist
Harry Maguire then doubled the Three Lions’ lead early in the second half by heading home a free-kick from Luke Shaw
England captain Kane then made sure of England’s date at Wembley on Wednesday with a header through the keeper’s legs
Substitute Jordan Henderson then came off the bench to score his first goal for the Three Lions for their fourth of the night
Ukraine (3-5-2): Bushchan; Zabarnyi, Kryvtsov (Tsygankov 36), Matviyenko; Karavayev, Sydorchuk (Makarenko 64), Shaparenko, Zinchenko, Mykolenko; Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk
Subs not used: Sobol, Sudakov, Stepanenko, Marlos, Pyatov, Tsygankov, Bezus, Zubkov, Trubin, Tymchyk, Dovbyk
Yellow cards: None
England (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw (Trippier 65); Phillips (Bellingham 65), Rice (Henderson 57); Sancho, Mount, Sterling (Rashford 65); Kane (Calvert-Lewin 73)
Subs not used: Grealish, Ramsdale, Mings, Coady, Foden, Chilwell, Johnstone
Goals: Kane 4, 50, Maguire 46, Henderson 63
Yellow cards: None
Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)
And so, a quarter of a century after he missed a penalty at Wembley in a European Championship semi-final, Gareth Southgate is heading back to try to set things right. After England beat Germany last week, Southgate said he still thought about the teammates he felt he had let down in 1996. Saturday night in Rome was another step in his road to redemption, another leap in England’s quest for release from the failures of the past.
Anything seems possible now. Maybe it really is coming home. A tournament that has danced all over Europe is returning to England for its finale and it will be accompanied by a wave of fervour from the country that we will not have seen since the London Olympics and Euro 96.
It feels as if the fear and apprehension that so often haunts England players has melted away to be replaced by excitement and an eagerness to excel. And as the fear fades, the division that settled around the team is fading, too, and the squabbles about taking the knee and team selection are disappearing. Nights like Saturday night have a habit of uniting us all.
The last time England came to the Italian capital needing a result was in October 1997, when Glenn Hoddle’s side – their goal protected by the force-field that the manager’s faith-healer Eileen Drewery had erected around it – secured the dogged 0-0 draw with Italy they needed to qualify for the World Cup in France the following year.
This time, England were seeking to win a tournament, not just qualify for it. Southgate had rejected the suggestion made by Jose Mourinho and others that he should rest Harry Maguire, Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice and protect them from the possibility of getting a second yellow card and missing a semi-final that England hadn’t yet qualified for. As Southgate recognised, that is the kind of thinking that has undone England before.
‘We have been to three major semi-finals in 60 years,’ the England manager said. ‘The thought that we could be resting players – I can’t think of a nation that would do that and I don’t remember a nation doing that. I understand the strategy of thinking it through but it would be a bad message. It would be thinking about the future and we should not be thinking about the future yet.’
So Maguire, Phillips and Rice were all in the starting line-up. So, too, was Jadon Sancho. The quest to get Sancho into the first eleven had become almost as much as a cause celebre as the clamour for Jack Grealish to be elevated from a place on the bench. Regular watchers of the Bundesliga, in particular, have been scandalised by Sancho’s omission. A minor injury to Bukayo Saka gave him his chance to shine at last.
The Three Lions captain latched on to the ball played by Sterling to open the scoring at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome
Luke Shaw provided an excellent outlet for the Three Lions down the left as they searched for a second first-half goal
Jadon Sancho made his first start of the tournament for England with his move to Manchester United on the verge of completion
Tottenham striker Kane headed over from a free-kick as he looked to score again having scored twice in as many games
Southgate also abandoned the back three that had worked so beautifully against Germany and a reverted to a back four, which meant Kieran Trippier dropping to the bench and Mason Mount being recalled after his Covid-induced exile for spending too much time in the Wembley tunnel after the Scotland game with his Chelsea teammate Billy Gilmour.
Mount thought he had won a penalty three minutes into the game when he was tripped in the box. The referee waved play on but it was a short reprieve for Ukraine. A minute later, Sterling cut in from the left and danced past two challenges before slipping a brilliant pass into the path of Kane. Clean through, Kane stretched to reach the ball ahead of Georgiy Bushchan and even though his toe-poke clipped the goalkeeper’s chest, it nestled in the back of the net.
What a start. It almost felt disconcerting. England have rarely done things the easy way in tournaments but here was more vindication for the faith that Southgate showed in his captain in the face of fierce criticism earlier in the tournament. Here, too, was more evidence for the case that Sterling is England’s best player at this tournament.
Ukraine took some time to recover but they were nearly presented with a way back into the match by some uncharacteristically sloppy England defending. Maguire sold Kyle Walker short with an underhit pass and Walker compounded the error by misjudging his pass back to John Stones. Roman Yaremchuk pounced on it and ran at Stones, making enough space for a shot that Jordan Pickford shovelled behind for a corner. Pickford berated his defenders.
Andriy Shevchenko’s men then suffered another blow when defender Serhiy Kryvtsov slumped to the floor with an injury
The centre-back was unable to continue for his country and was therefore replaced by Viktor Tsyhankov
England created a few more first-half chances, with the returning Mason Mount slamming a shot at goal which was blocked
The game grew more attritional as the evening heat sapped the players’ energy but Sterling was still tormenting Ukraine’s defence. Just after the half hour, he weaved his way to the goal line again and cut the ball back. It fell to Rice and he unleashed a piledriver that flew at Bushchan like a rocket. It was all the Ukraine goalkeeper could do to get his fists in front of his face and batter it away.
Sancho was playing well, too. One mesmerising dribble got the spectators off their seats and he was finding space intelligently. But Andriy Shevchenko’s team looked more and more dangerous as half-time approached. They targeted England’s right side relentlessly and Yaremchuk started to make life distinctly uncomfortable for Kyle Walker. Oleksandr Zinchenko also became more influential and in the closing minutes of the half, another Ukraine incursion ended with Mykola Shaparenko slicing a shot just wide.
A minute after the interval, England were further ahead. Kane was fouled by Serhiy Sydorchuk on the left flank and Luke Shaw curled in the perfect free kick to the edge of the six-yard box. Maguire ran in, leapt high and powered a thundering header past Bushchan.
Declan Rice then had a go from just outside the box but the ball was unconvincingly parried by Heorhiy Bushchan
Bushchan was then called into action again when Sancho found room inside the box but hit his shot straight at him
However, early in the second half England doubled their advantage when Maguire headed home a delightful Shaw cross
Four minutes later, England were in dreamland. Shaw, again, burst down the left on the overlap and clipped a lovely cross into the box where Kane was waiting. Kane rose unchallenged and nodded his header down so precisely and firmly that it went through the legs of the startled Bushchan. England were 3-0 up and cruising.
Shaw was playing brilliantly. He has been transformed under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United and is the latest example of a player who has suffered under Jose Mourinho and thrived when free of him. There was a neat irony in the fact that Shaw was playing like this in the Stadio Olimpico, the arena that Mourinho now calls home as the manager of Roma.
Midway through the half, England went further ahead. Kane had a stunning left foot volley brilliantly saved by Bushchan but Mount swung in the resulting corner and it was met by a superb run and header from Jordan Henderson, who had come on for Rice. It was his first goal for his country.
That seemed to sum up the night, a night when everything went right, a night to make dreams of an end to all the decades of hurt seem as if they might be real.
Kane then made absolutely sure of England’s progression to the semi-finals with another header from a Shaw delivery
Henderson replaced Declan Rice in the second half and netted his first international goal soon after from a Mount corner
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