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Euro 2020: Kane leads England past Ukraine and into semi-finals

Kane
England’s Harry Kane scores their first goal [Reuters]

ROME, July 4: Harry Kane scored twice as a buoyant England cruised through to the semi-finals of Euro 2020 with a one-sided 4-0 win over Ukraine in Rome on Saturday.


Kane ended a worrying international scoring drought by netting in the 2-0 last-16 defeat of Germany in midweek and he put England ahead inside four minutes on a sweaty evening in the Italian capital.
Gareth Southgate’s side then put this quarter-final tie out of sight with two more goals early in the second half, one from Harry Maguire before Kane netted again.
Substitute Jordan Henderson got the fourth, and as Denmark lie in wait in the Wembley semi-final on Tuesday England will be confident of going on to reach a first ever European Championship final and even now claiming a first major international title since 1966.
The draw here was kind for them, with Ukraine surely as weak an opponent as they could hope to face in a quarter-final, a stage at which they have lost to the likes of Italy and Portugal in recent European Championships.
However the statistics are impressive, with England having come through five games at this tournament all without conceding a goal.
Some of their play in wide areas was outstanding, with Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho — making his first start at the Euro — too hot for Ukraine to handle.
Kane, their captain, had gone close to eight hours without finding the net for his country but his opener here was his second in just eight minutes following the late strike that secured victory over Germany.
Regardless of the opposition, their display at the Stadio Olimpico was a step-up in class in the final third to previous games at the Euro and they will be favourites at home against a Danish side who played their own quarter-final against the Czech Republic on Saturday in distant Baku.
This will be the only match England play away from home in the competition and it marked quite a difference to their defeat of the Germans, which was watched by more than 40,000 supporters at Wembley, where coronavirus restrictions were eased.
With Italy currently imposing a five-day quarantine on all arrivals from the United Kingdom, the number of England fans in Rome was limited to those already based in the European Union although they still made themselves heard in the crowd of under 12,000.
They had plenty to celebrate, unlike their Ukrainian counterparts, as Andriy Shevchenko’s team came up short in their bid to take the country to a first ever major tournament semi-final.
They scraped out of their group and then edged 10-man Sweden in extra time in the last 16, and their chances of shocking England looked dead and buried when they fell behind early on.
Sterling, who terrorised the Ukraine defence down the left, played in Kane who poked the ball past Georgiy Bushchan.
Ukraine’s giant striker Roman Yaremchuk forced a save from Jordan Pickford and a Declan Rice piledriver was kept out by Bushchan, with England looking comfortable.
However Ukraine were a different proposition after injured defender Serhiy Kryvtsov was replaced by Dynamo Kiev winger Viktor Tsygankov in the 36th minute.
They finished the first half strongly and more pessimistic England fans may have spent the interval reliving their exit from Euro 2016, when they lost to Iceland in the last 16 despite also having opened the scoring in the fourth minute.
They need not have worried.
England scored again less than a minute after the restart when a foul on Kane allowed Luke Shaw to deliver a free-kick from the left for Maguire to head in.
Four minutes after that Sterling supplied the overlapping Shaw and he crossed for a rejuvenated Kane to head home.
The Tottenham star nearly had his hat-trick, a stinging volley producing a fine save from Bushchan.
From Mason Mount’s resulting corner came the fourth goal, another header, this time from Henderson, the first of five substitutes sent on by Southgate who would have been thinking about the semi-final long before this quarter-final was officially over.
Denmark hold off Czech rally to enter Euro 2020 semis
Denmark’s fairytale run at Euro 2020 will continue into the semi-finals after they beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in Baku on Saturday.
First-half goals from Thomas Delaney and Kasper Dolberg were enough to see Kasper Hjulmand’s men through despite a second-half rally from the Czechs inspired by Patrik Schick’s fifth goal of the tournament.
The Danes have now scored 10 goals in winning their last three matches after starting the tournament with two defeats, the first amid shocking circumstances when Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch.
Three weeks on, they are dreaming of a repeat of 1992 when Denmark won the European Championship despite not even qualifying.
Then Yugoslavia’s expulsion due to an outbreak of war gave them a second chance and they are playing like a side inspired by the emotion of Eriksen’s collapse and recovery.
The Inter Milan midfielder was able to leave hospital after less than a week with a defibrillator fitted in his chest, but on the field Denmark have survived the loss of their star man for the past decade.
After playing all three group games in Copenhagen and in front of thousands of travelling Danish fans in Amsterdam in a 4-0 thrashing of Wales last weekend, only a small pocket of supporters could make the 4,000 kilometre trip to Azerbaijan.
Those that did make it were celebrating within five minutes as Delaney was left completely unmarked to head home Jens Stryger Larsen’s corner.
Tomas Vaclik then had to deny Mikkel Damsgaard to prevent the Danes doubling their lead in a blistering start.
But the Czechs then came into the game and twice Kasper Schmeichel was forced into saves by Tomas Holes.
Denmark were always a threat on the break, though, and Vaclik had to stand up to parry another powerful drive by Damsgaard.
Vaclik was powerless three minutes before half-time when Joakim Maehle added another assist to his fine tournament with a teasing cross with the outside of his right foot that Dolberg smashed home from close range.
Czech boss Jaroslav Silhavy made two substitutions at the break and the introduction of Jakub Jankto and Michael Krmencik made an instant impact.
Krmencik stung the palms of Schmeichel before the Leicester goalkeeper was forced to turn Antonin Barak’s shot behind.
But Denmark did not heed their warning as Schick latched onto Vladimir Coufal’s cross to join Cristiano Ronaldo as the tournament’s top goalscorer.
The Czechs’ momentum soon fizzled out with both sides visibly jaded by their long journey east and the searing heat.
Vaclik kept his side in the game with a string of saves to twice deny substitute Yussuf Poulsen and then Maehle when one-on-one.


However, with Schick forced off by a muscle strain, Silhavy’s men lacked the goal threat to trouble Denmark through six minutes of stoppage time. (AFP)

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