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Ukraine 0-4 England
If you’re still not convinced that this England side is the real deal, then perhaps the beautiful game isn’t the sport for you!
There, I’ve said it! Of course, Gareth Southgate’s men are in good company in the last four, but this is convincing stuff. England’s latest victims, Ukraine, were brushed aside with plenty of punch, a pinch of flair and an abundance of honesty.
Harry Kane appears to have rediscovered his mojo. He took his goals with the ruthlessness we’ve come to expect. Further proof that form is temporary, class is permanent.
I questioned Harry Maguire’s inclusion ahead of the tournament. Pre-competition fitness concerns have been exsosised. A goal this time out capping a solid dispaly in a backline determined to ensure that none shall pass.
Similarly, Jordan Henderson. Once again, Southgate appears to know best. His man-management is second to none. He has leaders, of which Henderson is one, and this group knows their respective jobs, understands the responsibility, and is currently thriving upon it on the big stage.
Back-to-back semi-finals aren’t silverware. But it is a sign of consistency that ultimately needs to be maintained. England are no longer a foundation, they are starting to climb, to evolve. “The players have been fantastic,” Southgate told BBC Sport.
“To play as well as they did in a game with so much resting on it was impressive.
“We’ve known we had players we needed to look after physically. We know across seven games, the squad is so important, trying to give people a breather at the right time.
“We learned a lot from Russia in that instance. We were trying to balance players with knocks and yellow cards.”
So here we are, one game away from a major final. England has played five, won four, lost none and conceded none. Denmark has their reasons and agenda – I think we all respect that. But the road ahead leads to Wembley Stadium on Wednesday evening. It’s not quite ‘come home’ just yet, but it’s nearer than it’s been in more than five decades.
Ukraine: Bushchan; Karavaev, Zabarnyi, Kryvtsov (Tsygankov 36′), Matviyenko, Mykolenko; Sydorchuk (Makarenko 64′), Zinchenko, Shaparenko; Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk Subs not used: Sobol, Sudakov, Stepanenko, Marlos, Pyatov, Bezus, Zubkov, Trubin, Tymchyk, Dovbyk
England: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw (Trippier 65′); Phillips (Bellingham 65′), Rice (Henderson 57′), Mount; Sancho, Kane (Calvert-Lewin 73′), Sterling (Rashford 65′) Subs not used: Ramsdale, Johnstone, Grealish, Mings, Coady, Foden, Chilwell
Referee: Dr. Felix Brych