Three Lions storm into semi-finals
- H. Kane (4′) (50′)
- H. Maguire (46′)
- J. Henderson (63′)
Harry Kane’s brace helped a magnificent England soar into their first European Championship semi-final since 1996 as Ukraine were put to the sword on a memorable night in Rome.
The England captain’s fourth-minute opener gave his side the perfect start and a quickfire double salvo from Harry Maguire and Kane at the start of the second half opened up a convincing lead which Gareth Southgate’s men never looked like surrendering.
And Jordan Henderson’s first goal for the Three Lions put the icing on the cake along with a fifth consecutive clean sheet to ensure England’s defence remains yet to be breached at UEFA EURO 2020.
A return to Wembley now awaits on Wednesday night for a semi-final against Denmark set to bring the nation to a standstill.
Southgate made two changes to the side which beat Germany in the round of 16, with Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho – making his first start of the tournament – the men to come in as the Three Lions lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
It took less than four minutes for the tactical switch to pay dividends as Tuesday evening’s two goalscorers linked up to devastating effect.
Highlights: England 4-0 Ukraine
See the goals and the best of the action from the EURO quarter-final in Rome
Sterling cut in from the left-hand side and threaded an inch-perfect through ball into the path of Kane, who confidently finished past Georgiy Bushchan from six yards out to give England an early advantage.
Southgate’s side continued to look assured in the early stages but suffered a momentary lapse when Kyle Walker’s under-hit pass was seized upon by Roman Yaremchuk, who forced Jordan Pickford into his first save of the evening.
But back came England, who put together an excellent move midway through the first half which ended with Luke Shaw’s cut-back evading the players in the box following good work by Sancho and Sterling.
The dangerous Sterling saw a shot blocked shortly afterwards and when the Manchester City man was fouled on the left touchline just before the half-hour mark. Kane headed over Shaw’s teasing delivery from the resulting free-kick.
Declan Rice was next to go close with a fierce 20-yard strike which was beaten away by Bushchan, who later kept out a low Sancho effort as the Three Lions went in search of the vital second goal before the break.
Southgate’s men had to dig in prior to the whistle as Ukraine improved but it took less than 60 seconds of the second half for the lead to be doubled courtesy of a goal which carried more than a hint of World Cup déjà vu.
Maguire, scorer of a bullet header in the quarter-final against Sweden in Russia three years ago, emphatically met Shaw’s pinpoint free-kick to give Bushchan no chance and provide a valuable cushion.
Shaw was again the provider just four minutes later as England entered dreamland. The rampaging left-back latched on to Sterling’s neat backheel and expertly picked out Kane, who headed home his third goal in two games to put the game to bed.
With confidence flowing, Kane took aim with a 20-yard volley just past the hour and only a stunning Bushchan save prevented the skipper sealing his hat-trick with what would’ve been a stunner.
England were not to be denied a fourth, however, and the resulting corner was steered home by an unmarked Henderson to break his Three Lions duck at the 62nd attempt.
Such an emphatic lead allowed Southgate the luxury of withdrawing the majority of those at risk of missing the semi-final through suspension and Ukraine had their moments, Yevhen Makarenko keeping Pickford on his toes with a palm-stinging effort from outside the box.
But England’s stubborn defence held firm and roared on by a vocal Three Lions support in the Stadio Olimpico, Southgate’s side comfortably negotiated the closing stages on a night which will live long in the memory.
Substitutes: 8 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) for Rice 57’, 12 Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid) for Shaw 65’, 11 Marcus Rashford for Sterling 65’, 26 Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) for Phillips 65’, 18 Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) for Kane 73’
Substitutes not used: 7 Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), 13 Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United), 15 Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), 16 Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers), 20 Phil Foden (Manchester City), 21 Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), 23 Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion)
Goals: Kane 4’, 50’, Maguire 46’, Henderson 63’
Ukraine (3-5-2): 1 Georgiy Bushchan; 13 Illia Zabarnyi, 4 Serhiy Kryvtsov, 22 Mykola Matviyenko; 21 Oleksandr Karavaev, 5 Serhiy Sydorchuk, 17 Oleksandr Zinchenko, 10 Mykola Shaparenko, 16 Vitaliy Mykolenko; 9 Roman Yaremchuk, 7 Andriy Yarmolenko (c)
Substitutes: 15 Viktor Tsygankov for Kryvtsov 35’, 14 Yehven Makarenko for Sydorchuk 64’
Substitutes not used: 2 Eduard Sobol, 3 Georgiy Sudakov, 6 Taras Stepanenko, 11 Marlos, 12 Andriy Pyatov, 18 Roman Bezus, 20 Oleksandr Zubkov, 23 Anatolii Trubin, 24 Oleksandr Tymchyk, 26 Artem Dovbyk
Referee: Felix Brych