England’s impressive Euro 2020 campaign continued as Ukraine were swept aside 4-0 in Rome to set up a semi-final showdown against Denmark at Wembley.
Following an emotionally-charged victory over Germany in front of thousands of jubilant supporters, it was in the end a fairly straightforward evening for the Three Lions at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.
Harry Kane settled any nerves with an early goal, before Harry Maguire powered home a header at the start of the second half.
England skipper Kane swiftly nodded in a third before substitute Jordan Henderson’s first international goal capped a memorable performance from Gareth Southgate’s men – who have still to concede a goal at the tournament.
Earlier on Saturday, Denmark edged past the Czechs after first-half goals from Thomas Delaney and Kasper Dolberg put them in control in Baku.
Czech striker Patrik Schick grabbed his fifth Euro 2020 goal in the 49th minute to set up a tense second half, but Kasper Hjulmand’s squad held out to continue their remarkable run deep into the tournament.
For those who are brave enough to put themselves through the emotional rollercoaster of watching England games, the final few nervous minutes are usually spent watching through clenched fingers or from behind the sofa. There is, though, something very different about England under Southgate – a young team playing without the weight of all those ‘oh-so-nears’ down the years and whose performances mean fans in Rome, all around the world as well as back home will never stop dreaming.
We didn't want to take a backward step, we wanted to really grasp the opportunity rather than hope that we might win or let fate have a chance to play its part.England manager Gareth Southgate
The Danes have become a lot of people’s ‘second team’ for the way they have responded after star man Christian Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest in their opening group match defeat to Finland. The Inter Milan midfielder is continuing his recovery following hospital treatment – and could yet be given the best tonic should Kasper Hjulmand’s squad go on to emulate the boys of 1992.
Italy full-back Leonardo Spinazzola may have kicked his last ball at Euro 2020 following a ruptured Achilles injury suffered in Friday’s quarter-final win over Belgium, but the Roma defender will be anything but a forgotten man. Fans voted the left-back as the Azzurri’s MVP from the match in a poll on the Italian Football Federation website and the 28-year-old, hobbling on crutches, was given a standing ovation by his team-mates when back at their base in Florence.
With just three matches left, the race for the Golden Boot remains wide open. England skipper Kane took his tally to three in two games with a brace against Ukraine, to sit alongside team-mate Raheem Sterling. Czech frontman Patrik Schick scored his fifth goal of the tournament against Denmark to move level with Cristiano Ronaldo. Nice forward Dolberg also has three goals – but will be up against it to improve on that against a defence which has yet to be breached in Euro 2020.
The Czechs had progressed from England’s group as one of the best third-placed teams – and then pulled off a shock victory against 10-man Holland in the last 16 to book their quarter-final spot. Jaroslav Silhavy’s men, though, paid for a slow start in Baku, and not even a fifth tournament goal for frontman Patrik Schick was enough to salvage a return trip to north London.
Italy v Spain (semi-final, July 6, Wembley, 2000 BST)
England v Denmark (semi-final, July 7, Wembley, 2000 BST)