At Wembley on Sunday, England defeated Ukraine 2-0 thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka to seize leadership of Group C for the Euro 2024 qualifying tournament. For the best sports betting casinos of April 2023, make sure you visit the best website there is – CasinoDaddy!
In 37 minutes, Kane scored his 55th goal for England by heading Saka's deft right-wing cross into the back of the net. The Arsenal winger then increased the lead with a fantastic shot from outside the penalty area. An emotional afternoon at Wembley marked by the recognition of Ukraine's ongoing war effort and calls for peace from both sets of players saw Kane receive a Golden Boot from Football Association chair Debbie Hewitt prior to the game.
Nonetheless, despite having no shots on target, the opponents were unable to harm England, who kept their perfect record in Group C.
England dominates a challenging group.
Given the presence of the reigning European champions (Italy), the top-ranked team in Pot 3 (Ukraine), and North Macedonia, which defeated Italy in the World Cup playoff last year, Group C appeared to be a difficult group to play in. But, England followed up a stunning victory in Naples on Thursday with a convincing victory on Sunday at Wembley. After a sluggish start, England scored twice in the space of four minutes to put the game out of reach by halftime.
There is never a guarantee that an international team would bounce back after such a heartbreaking tournament departure as England had in Qatar, losing to France despite periods in which they were the superior team and Kane missing a penalty that would have likely forced extra time. A manager change is frequently necessary. The FA wanted Southgate to continue after the World Cup, but he had doubts about it in part because he thought it would be difficult to advance with him there. The fact that the players have already set their sights on the Euro 2024 championships in Germany next summer after their first camp together shows that they are still unified behind him.
There should be no room for complacency, but a doubleheader in June between North Macedonia at home and Malta on the road offers a great opportunity to finish the season with the full 12 points, which will go a long way toward winning one of the two top slots required to qualify.
To say that Saka's spot in England's starting lineup wasn't always a given now seems strange. Saka was one of the numerous players battling for one offensive place alongside Kane because of Southgate's allegiance to Raheem Sterling, but the 21-year-old is now one of the first names on Southgate's teamsheet.
Early on, against a well-organized team, England was cumbersome in possession, but when they cranked up the tempo, Ukraine battled to keep up, and Saka was the one who made them pay. The England captain scored a beautiful cross from Saka after Kane's deft pass out to him for his 55th international goal. Saka then made a shrewd move and curled in a beautiful shot in the 40th minute for his sixth goal in his previous 12 starts for England. Saka has now scored eight goals for England at the age of 21 and 202 days. Only Dixie Dean (16), Jimmy Greaves (16), Wayne Rooney (12), and Michael Owen (10), who were of the same age, scored more goals.
Saka is a key player for Arsenal as they pursue the Premier League title, and he is quickly gaining clout for England. The amazing transformation is a testament to his mental toughness given what occurred to him at the postponed Euro 2020 final less than two years ago—missing a penalty in the final and facing racist online abuse as a result.
In these two games, Jack Grealish and James Maddison have a real chance to stake a claim for the left-wing position in Southgate's preferred 4-3-3 formation due to the absence of both Sterling and Marcus Rashford, as well as Phil Foden's withdrawal earlier on Sunday after having his appendix removed.
Grealish was mainly ineffectual against Italy, losing a wonderful opportunity at 2-0 in a way that enraged his manager by attempting a high-risk side-foot finish when a back-foot finish would have been the higher-probability option. Given the circumstances of Foden's retirement, Maddison may have received his first England start against Ukraine late in the day. He looked efficient but lacked Saka's penetration.
The last player to make a full England debut since Theo Walcott against Andorra in September 2008 to have generated five chances was Maddison, whose impact may not have been as noticeable (six). It is challenging to contest the figure on its own. And the assumption is that Rashford and, possibly, Sterling stay farther advanced in the pecking order. Making the most of the potential this abundance of attacking alternatives offers Southgate remains a challenge, but one that, at least on the left side, he is arguably no closer to resolving.