England made it look easy against Ukraine in the European Championship quarterfinals, winning 4-0 with key goals coming early in both halves.
Gareth Southgate made a couple of changes to spark his attack, with Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho coming into the starting XI in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but it was the wide left forward Raheem Sterling who helped put England ahead early on.
Sterling has been in sparkling form this tournament, and with just three minutes elapsed cut inside and found Harry Kane running into space behind the defensive line. The England captain made no mistake chipping the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper for a quick goal as the commentators were still going through the lineups.
HARRY KANE SCORES IN THE 4TH MINUTE— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 3, 2021
DREAM START FOR THE LIONS pic.twitter.com/fxKbC7AKnF
It was not until the 17th minute when Jordan Pickford was first called into action with Roman Yaremchuk pouncing on a misplaced pass by Kyle Walker to go around John Stones and fired off a low shot that the Everton goalie parried wide for a corner.
The Three Lions seemed happy to let the Ukrainians control the ball after scoring, looking to hit them on the break. Indeed, despite ceding possession, England had more scoring chances as the half went on until Mykola Shaparenko came closest to tying the game with a low volley that swerved away from goal with Pickford rooted to the spot.
It was still 1-0 to England at the half, and the contest was by no means over at the time, but within a couple of minutes of the second half it was. Kane had his ankles rapped to win a freekick, and Luke Shaw’s excellent delivery into the box was met by Harry Maguire and the defender headed home emphatically.
In the 50th minute it started resembling a rout as Mount and Sterling combined to find Shaw free on the left, and the fullback picked up his second assist of the game with a pinpoint delivery to Kane who headed home nutmegging goalie Heorhiy Bushchan to make it 3-0. The Tottenham Hotspur striker had been out of form for the Three Lions leading into the last game, but now has picked up three in two games and quietened his critics with key games on the horizon.
HARRY KANE DOUBLE!— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 3, 2021
ENGLAND ARE FLYING INTO THE SEMIS!!! pic.twitter.com/gvxWsUFAwz
Ten minutes later Kane almost grabbed his hattrick with a sweetly-struck volley that was well saved by the goalie. From the ensuing corner though, Jordan Henderson ran in unmarked to head home Mount’s perfect delivery to make it 4-0 with his first goal for the Three Lions in over sixty appearances.
Kane came off in the 73rd minute for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to get some valuable minutes late on. Yevhenii Makarenko stung Pickford’s palms with a shot from distance, with the Everton netminder parrying clear. A bunch of substitutions by both sides ensured that the remainder of the game was not filled with more drama.
England’s five game streak without conceding to start the European Championships has never been done before in the competition, and now Pickford will attempt to keep that going in the semi-final against Denmark on Wednesday. The Danes have previously beaten the Three Lions at Wembley earlier this season in a friendly, with Christian Eriksen having scored the winner.