The Harry’s of England knitted the climax of the win against Ukraine as Henderson proved Roy Keane wrong once for a while

July 4, 2021

The surrealists would have loved to see Gareth Southgate’s England last night. Well, why am I saying that?!…an audacious grin is building upon my face while I am writing this piece as this is huge. The thing about expectations is that when we get what we wanted we lose the value of that particular moment in our mind but you see the thing with desire is that it grows. That’s what happened with England. People expected them to win the European Championship and henceforth the torch of glory was held and “Its Coming Home” was sung but this English side gifted their fans what they desired to see.

The collaborative effort that England had put against Ukraine in the backdrop of a dusky evening in the Stadio Olympico in Rome felt like a scene out of Salvador Dali’s canvas. I am not an expert at painting but it is one of my inherent perks which helps me to relate everything that is unearthly with the beautiful game of Football. Gareth Southgate’s team selection had been confusing the supporters throughout the tournament but it’s not that a manager’s decision could always be understood. All of the English fans wanted Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho to be a part of the starting line-up from the beginning of the campaign but Southgate’s decision to save them just to unleash their spectacular performance at the very moment when the country needs them is nothing but a touch of a masterclass.

Harry Kane back with his lethal form since the game against Germany; the fluidity in the midfield with Mason Mount’s inclusion; Jadon Sancho’s presence in the attacking third; Luke Shaw’s devastating run-ins and crosses from the left flank; Jordan Henderson getting his first goal in the national team colors in his 62nd International cap were all part and parcel of England’s weaponry that destroyed the ambitious Ukrainian side with four goals to nil. Andriy Shevchenko knew that this game was going to be decisive and he can be proud of his team’s performance throughout the tournament. Ukraine had shown a lot of courage but in tournaments like this the last team standing is always the one which is a complete ‘TEAM’- a balanced entity in the attack, defense, and midfield chemistry and the one that has a very good reserve bench as with the COVID-19 pandemic the restrictions in the bio-bubble and the constant traveling from one venue to the other had been affecting the health of the players more than ever. This is one of the reasons we had seen strong teams like Belgium and France were getting dismissed from the title run and Italy has faced a huge blow as they lost their most precious player Leonardo Spinazzola to injury.

The start was more than brilliant as Raheem Sterling had got the ball to his left advanced inside cutting with his right foot through for Harry Kane and he skipped his marker and fired a instep punch shot past Bushchan and England lead the game with only 4 minutes on the clock.

Harry Kane’s first goal

Ukraine’s 5-3-2 formation was not upto the mark in order to face this England with the superfluity of attacks, but they did not stick back as they continued to produce their penetration. Yaremchuk had collected the ball and launched his run and fired a shot which forced Pickford to punch it away with all his might. Kyle Walker’s misplaced pass could have proved dangerous for the Three Lions but it was dealt well at the end. The first half ended with some of Ukraine’s best performance glimpses which kept the fans alive and hopeful until the second half.

Yaremchuk’s shot being blocked by Stones and Pickford at the other end

Harry Maguire had inspired as he paved the pathway of the poetic triumph with a goal “Made in Manchester” as Luke Shaw’s free-kick had dipped into the box and Maguire climbed against his marker and thumped his venomous header at the back of the net at the juncture of 46th minute and England flew to a place from there on where it was impossible to bat an eye towards them.

Maguire’s header

The promise of an adventurous, mine-studded assignment against a fast and almost fearless Ukraine side had evaporated in the warm summer evening at Rome and if anything it boosted Gareth Southgate’s side to keep their clean-sheet in the tournament as Jordan Pickford did not even lack a bit of motivation throughout the entire 90 minutes.

Pickford in action

The goals kept coming in as at the 50th minute the skipper had risen to the occasion once again and converted another of Shaw’s brilliance with a headed goal as Harry Kane’s second one made Ukraine’s custodian who spent most of his life on the English soil fell to the ground with a sheepish look.”

Harry Kane’s second of the night

England with the two-goal cushion could have marched on into the next stage of the competition but Gareth Southgate’s substitution made it impossible for them to stop. Declan Rice made way for Jordan Henderson and the 31-year-old Liverpool midfielder had jumped in for a header as the corner kick had been delivered by Mason Mount and nabbed the ball home and put the scoreline 0-4 at rest for the rest of the night.

Henderson’s first international goal

The athleticism and the mentality were beyond words for Gareth Southgate’s team. The commotion in the midfield which had been raised by the Britisher’s in the previous matches was subsidized by Mason Mount’s presence along with Kalvin Phillips’ extraordinary command in the possession. Ukraine had tried to curb and control Jadon Sancho’s moves inside the penalty box but that proved futile at the end as the newly confirmed Manchester United man forged his way to the right flank and for this fluency the United think tank had to pay him 90 million Euros this season.

Mason Mount in action

The dream turned to reality and it continues for England as they flashed Shevchenko’s side and are going to face the emotionally motivated Danish side and what a match that would be with the resurgence tale and a tough fight in the defensive third. Gareth Southgate is one of his recent interviews said that England has never won the European Championship and that is the prime mover of their purposeful efforts to reach the summit where they had never set foot before. Let’s hope that we get to savor in another sleepless European football night as the semi-finals are just 48 hours far and I know it’s hard as there are so many questions that need to be answered and so long a hang about.

England players celebrating the win with the fans

Team News:

Ukraine: Bushchan, Zabarnyi, Kryvtsov, Matviyenko, Karavayev, Sydorchuk, Shaparenko, Zinchenko, Mykolenko, Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk.
Subs: Sobol, Sudakov, Stepanenko, Marlos, Pyatov, Makarenko, Tsygankov, Bezus, Zubkov, Trubin, Tymchyk, Dovbyk.

England: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Phillips, Rice, Sancho, Mount, Sterling, Kane.
Subs: Grealish, Henderson, Rashford, Trippier, Ramsdale, Mings, Coady, Calvert-Lewin, Foden, Chilwell, Johnstone, Bellingham.

Referee: Felix Brych (Germany).

Star of the Match: Harry Kane

Harry Kane with the Star of the Match award