England fans probably had to pinch themselves when Harry Kane found the net inside four minutes against Ukraine. While Gareth Southgate’s side were clearly the favourites, many had expected a hard-fought encounter, in keeping with most of England’s matches at Euro 2020 up until that point. But with Kane’s finish came a wave of relief. The first goal had been scored. England were on their way. Football was coming home!
In truth, Ukraine are not a side worthy of playing in a European Championship quarter-final. They were fortunate to even progress to the knockout stage after finishing third in their group with only three points. They showed good character to beat 10-man Sweden in the last 16, but England were simply a class apart in Rome, and it showed on the scoreline.
After half-time, further goals from Harry Maguire, Kane, and Jordan Henderson sealed a 4-0 win and England’s biggest ever knockout victory in a major tournament. It was the kind of dominant display that will spark great memories in English football fans for years to come, and it will be an emotional night when England take on Denmark in the semi-final at Wembley.
England will be the favourites once again, with those who bet at Betfair on England v Denmark favouring Gareth Southgate’s side. But Denmark will certainly pose a stiffer test than Ukraine, and they too are riding a wave of emotion following the harrowing collapse of Christian Eriksen in their opening match against Finland.
But the manner in which England dispatched Ukraine will give everyone confidence. If it had been a nervy, scrappy affair, then there would be a considerable amount of tension in the build-up to the quarter-final. It is a rare sight to see a talented England team actually deliver on their potential, and there is a feel-good factor gripping the nation at the moment. Southgate and co. need to harness the huge support that is backing them and use it to their advantage.
While the win over Germany was a momentous victory, the thrashing of Ukraine has truly confirmed England’s status as genuine contenders in the Euros winner odds. It was nice for England fans to be able to sit back and enjoy their team put on a show, and that’s why the quarter-final victory will be remembered for a very long time.
It’s important that the dominant nature of England’s win over Ukraine does not lead to complacency within the team. None of their prior wins at Euro 2020 had come easily, and you could forgive some for thinking that, after hammering Ukraine, England’s name is on the trophy. But Denmark will be no such pushovers. In beating Wales and the Czech Republic, they’ll have plenty of confidence. While most English fans would snap your arm off for a semi-final against Denmark, it’s fair to say that the Danes would do the same for a last-four tie with England.
Whatever happens next, England have provided some memorable moments at this tournament. Even if they were to lose to Denmark, the victory over Germany in the last 16 and the rip-roaring display against Ukraine will be something that those who were there to see it will look back on with fondness. There is still hope, however, that the celebrations have only just begun.