England matched their World Cup performance as they brushed aside Ukraine en-route to the Euro 2020 semi-final. A much-changed England side made light work of Ukraine as they triumphed 3-0 in Rome. Southgate reverted from the 343 that dispatched Germany in the round of 16, instead of moving to a 4 at the back-formation.
England lined up with a 433, with Jadon Sancho coming in on the right-hand side for the injured Bukayo Saka. England started the game in the best possible way, with Harry Kane poking in past the Ukraine keeper, from Raheem Sterling’s pass. Sterling’s mazy run to set up Kane exemplified what Sterling has been doing all tournament, and has played himself into talks about being England’s player of the tournament.
Ukraine didn’t test Jordan Pickford much in the first half, with their only real chance coming from a mistake from Kyle Walker. The Manchester City defender failed to collect a loose ball, and Pickford saved an easy shot from Roman Yaremchuk.
England dominated the first half, creating a handful of chances down both flanks. Sancho and Sterling switched wings regularly to confused the Ukraine defence. Sancho showed why Manchester United have agreed to sign him in a £73 million deal.
Sancho had the best chance of the first half, with Luke Shaw crossing to the Dortmund man on the edge of the box. Sancho fired a shot straight at the goalkeeper, who failed to hold the ball but kept it out of the net.
England went into the first half comfortable but wary of a Ukraine side who scored twice later against the Netherlands earlier in the tournament.
England didn’t wait for their second goal as the second half rolled on. Harry Maguire headed home from United teammate Luke Shaw’s cross the put England ahead just 55 seconds after the restart.
Shaw claimed his second assist of the night four minutes later when his whipped cross was headed home by Harry Kane for his third goal of the tournament.
England began to really dominate in the second half. Kane went close with a stunning volley, before Jordan Henderson, coming on a substitute for Declan Rice early in the second half, headed home his first-ever England goal in 62 caps.
Mass changes followed for England. With Southgate sure the game was won, England made three changes on the 65-minute mark.
Jude Bellingham, Marcus Rashford and Kieran Trippier joined the fray, with the man of the match Luke Shaw receiving his well-earned applause as he exited the pitch.
The four goals knocked the wind out of Ukraine’s sails, with manager Andriy Shevchenko looking a tragic figure on the side-lines Jordan Pickford had an anxious moment on the 70th minute, as a miskicked clearance put England momentarily in danger, but the ball was cleared by the defence and Ukraine failed to register a shot on goal.
Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin replaced Harry Kane on 72 minutes, with the England captain receiving a standing ovation from the England fans allowed in the stadium.
Ukraine troubled Pickford’s goal once more toward the end, West Ham’s Andriy Yarmalenko stinging the Everton keepers’ gloves with a powerful shot.
Pickford’s distribution almost led to Ukraine troubling his goal, but England’s defence stayed solid and kept the former Soviet Union members at bay. England ended the match with 4-0 winners and showed the rest of Europe that England is the team to beat in their journey to become champions of Europe.
Man of the Match – Luke Shaw [ENG]
Southgate will be very pleased with his young side, who became the first England side to reach back-to-back semi-finals in history. It was one of the most dominating performances by England in a tournament since they thrashed Panama 6-1 in the 2018 World Cup.
The performance showed a much different side to the one that beat Germany 2-0 at Wembley on Tuesday. England’s usually compact, discipline midfield showed their capability to play attacking, free-flowing football, exemplified by the inclusion of Jadon Sancho.
Sancho has agreed on a big-money transfer to Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund, but the distraction didn’t show in his performance. The English slalomed past Ukraine’s defence, creating chances and crossing in for the forwards at every opportunity.
Luke Shaw picked up the man of the match award, having registered two assists and creating countless chances for the Three Lions. Having had his best season to date for Manchester United, Shaw’s performance in the tournament has reiterated the claim that is one of the best-left backs in the World. He created the most chances for England in all tournaments.
The Stadio Olympico played host to this historic England victory, with Gareth Southgate one step closer to vindicating his penalty miss in Euro 1996. Undoubtedly the best England boss since Sir Alf Ramsey, he will surely be confident of dispatching Denmark in the semi-final at Wembley.