England vs. Ukraine – Football Match Report – March 26, 2023
First-half goals from Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka helped England seal a dominant 2-0 victory over Ukraine in Group C of their Euro 2024 qualifying at Wembley on Sunday.
Gareth Southgate’s side have now won back-to-back games to begin their bid to qualify for the next European Championships following Thursday’s win over Italy. The pair of matches were also their first since being knocked out in the quarterfinals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
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Harry Kane opened the scoring with a well-taken volley from inside the six-yard box that went through the legs of Ukraine goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin. The strike was Kane’s 55th goal for England, coming days after he broke the country’s all-time scoring record, previously held by Wayne Rooney, against Italy.
Saka doubled England’s lead just three minutes later with an eye-catching curled strike from the edge of the box into the far corner.
Ukraine had their moments and enjoyed some pressure after the interval but never really looked capable of claiming only a second victory over England in 10 attempts.
The second half was tepid although it was noteworthy for an international debut for Brentford forward Ivan Toney who came on 10 minutes from the end as a substitute for Kane.
Ukraine, who came agonisingly close to qualifying for the World Cup but lost a playoff to Wales, will be relieved to have got their toughest fixture out of the way.
There was plenty of sympathy for war-ravaged Ukraine around Wembley Stadium with 1,000 tickets donated to refugees and their sponsor families and the country’s anthem warmly-applauded.
But all sentiment was put to one side once the whistle sounded with England focussed only on building on their first victory in 62 years against Italy on Italian soil.
It took them a while to get going, however, as Ukraine comfortably kept the hosts at bay for most of the first half.
Kane, who was presented with a golden boot beforehand, was missing two routine chances, first fluffing a close-range volley and then prodding an inviting James Maddison delivery over.
But when he got a third chance he made no mistake.
Having passed the ball out to Saka, the captain then ghosted into the area and was picked out by the Arsenal’s man cross to touch the ball home. Saka then produced a goal of stunning quality, turning on to Jordan Henderson’s pass and curling a shot into the top corner.
Ukraine, who had a couple of half chances early on, showed plenty of energy after the interval but did not have the quality to ruffle and England side in cruise control.
It could have been a bigger margin of victory if substitutes Conor Gallagher and Jack Grealish, left out in favour of Maddison, had converted chances, although by that time thousands of England fans had decided to get to the station early.
Ukraine’s fans stayed until the end, however, and gave their team a rousing ovation in a corner that was a sea of yellow and blue. Their next game will be against North Macedonia in June while England are away in Malta next.
Information from Reuters contributed to this report.