After securing a famous 2-1 win over defending European champion Italy in enemy territory, England kept its fantastic momentum going and beat Ukraine at Wembley Stadium in the following 2024 UEFA Euro Qualifier, making it two victories in as many games in the qualifying round. The Three Lions managed to overcome their visitors with a 2-0 scoreline, thanks to goals from two London club players, Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka in the first 45 minutes of the game.
Two Goals in Quick Succession
Gareth Southgate made three changes to his England squad that earned a hard-fought victory over Roberto Mancini’s gli Azzurri at the latter’s home soil, with Ben Chillwell, Jordan Henderson and James Maddison replacing the suspended Luke Shaw, Kalvin Phillips and Jack Grealish. On the other hand, Ukraine’s interim manager Ruslan Rotan altered his team that drew Scotland a few days earlier with six changes at Wembley Stadium.
The home side started the game positively in the opening period of play and almost went ahead with Kane’s effort and Maddison’s header in the 30th and 34th minutes. Three Lions’ effort finally bore fruit seconds later, when Saka wiped in a delicious cross into the penalty box for his captain to open the score line. None of the two Ukrainian defenders were able to repel the delivery away, allowing Kane to extend his international tally to 55 goals, having already surpassed Wayne Rooney’s all-time goal scoring record for England last time around.
With first blood drawn, the English side quickly doubled its lead less than 180 seconds afterwards. Liverpool captain Henderson found Saka just outside the penalty box, before the in-form 21-year-old winger beat his defender and hit a long-range effort to the top left corner of the Ukraine goal. The left-footed curled shot by England’s no. 7 was his 17th goal for club and country this season.
A Third Almost Came
England brought the 2-0 advantage into the next 45 minutes and had multiple chances to further their lead in the game, had the active Leicester man Maddison not miss his opportunity and substitute Conor Gallagher scored with his first touch of the game. The 21-year-old shot stopper Trubin certainly deserved compliments in the second half, as he held England scoreless in the remainder of the game with brilliant saves over Harry Maguire’s header and Grealish’s strike. The 2-0 margin stayed till the end of the game, letting Three Lions to bring home all six points available in this round of the competition thus far.
Southgate: “Saka Has That Confidence in Front of Goal.”
52-year-old England gaffer, who almost quit the job after an upsetting end to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, hailed Saka for his brilliant performance (A goal and an assist) versus the Ukrainians. “It is a top-level finish [from Saka]. That is the ruthless part he has added to his game in the last 18 months or so. There were times you weren’t sure he was going to finish, but now he has that confidence in front of goal”, said Southgate.
He also added: “The risk is that when you have control of the game you have the odd sloppy pass, but the application throughout was excellent. We have broken down a lot of barriers over a period of time. We still had that question mark over some of the bigger teams. We are starting to win those games now but there is still lots of room for improvement. To back up the Italy result was important, but there is still room to grow. We are always trying to think about now and what is next.”
Malta and North Macedonia Next
After beating two of the strongest opponents in Group C of the 2024 UEFA Euro Qualifiers, England will encounter weaker European teams namely Malta and North Macedonia in the next international break in June. But before these two matches can take place, England players will dive back to their club duties as the current football season is coming to a close.
France manager Didier Deschamps decided to name Kylian Mbappé as the new French captain. We have the full story for you here: https://www.wclivestream.net/kylian-mbappe-named-new-france-captain-by-didier-deschamps-following-hugo-lloris-retirement/