London, Mar 26 (EFE).- Harry Kane scored late in the first half on a fine assist from Bukayo Saka, who himself then scored just three minutes later to lead England to a 2-0 win over Ukraine in their UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying match on Sunday at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Although the Three Lions were without the services of Phil Foden, out after having an appendectomy, and several other key players, that didn’t seem to set the team back any in an emotional faceoff, during which England fired 18 shots on goal to Ukraine’s 3 and dominated in other statistics as well.
Ukraine almost scored early on, but generally the team looked rather shaky throughout the match. After their nice end to the first half, the Three Lions played a rather stuttering second period, but largely managed to keep Ukraine away from their end of the field for the duration.
The first score came after Kane, 29, sent the ball to the 21-year-old Saka and darted into the box, whereupon Saka fired a nice cross that the team captain picked up arrowing it into the twine amid pressure from Ukraine’s Oleksandr Karavaev.
The second tally was a nice piece of work by Saka who, after receiving the ball from Jordan Henderson, whirled away from defenders and launched a fabulous left-footer from 20 yards out that got past netminder Anatoliy Trubin.
With the win, Gareth Southgate’s men have now reaped six points in the qualifying rounds, having defeated Italy 2-1 last Thursday in Naples, a match in which Kane became the national team’s all-time top goal scorer by sinking No. 54, adding one to that on Sunday.
With its six points in hand, England is sitting pretty in a Group C that also includes North Macedonia and Malta, and Southgate’s squad is expected to have an easy time against those two opponents in June.
It was the English national team’s first home game since their World Cup drive came to an end last year during the quarterfinals at the hands of France.
The English Football Association had made almost 1,000 free tickets to the match available to Ukrainians forced to flee their homeland for the United Kingdom amid the Russian invasion, and more than 4,200 Ukrainians attended the qualifying match, the country’s first outing of 2023.
Ukraine had just missed qualifying for the 2022 World Cup after losing to Wales in a playoff contest last summer.
England: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Chilwell; Henderson, Rice, Bellingham (Grealish, m.86); Saka, Kane (Toney, m.81) and Maddison (Gallagher, m.86).
Ukraine: Trubin; Karavaev (Buyalsky, m.61), Svatok, Matvienko, Mykolenko (Sobol, m.61); Stepanenko (Konoplianka, m.90), Zinchenko; Malinovskyi, Sudakov, Mudryk (Tsyngakov, m.61); Yaremchuk (Dovbyk, m.74).