England ratings & analysis v Ukraine: Harry Kane emerges to hit brace but Luke Shaw steals the show as England cruise
England produced a statement performance as they beat Ukraine 4-0 at the quarter-final stage of the Euros. Harry Kane hit a brace to silence some of his critics but it was Luke Shaw who was the standout performer as Gareth Southgate’s side announced themselves as one of the frontrunners at Euro 2020. England face Denmark in the semi-final at Wembley on Wednesday for a spot in the final.
'We haven't done anything yet' - Kane after England make semis
As has been the case for every England game at Euro 2020 so far, Gareth Southgate’s team selection prompted much pre-match discussion. Most notably, Jadon Sancho’s inclusion in the line-up caught many by surprise. Less surprising was the return of Mason Mount after missing the wins over Czech Republic and Germany.
England will face Denmark in the semi-finals and on this basis they will take some beating at this tournament. Here is a closer look at how the 15 players who featured for the Three Lions performed and what England can take from this performance.
Having matched up against Germany in a back three, Southgate reverted back to a flat back four with Kieran Trippier dropping out of the line-up as the wing back as Kyle Walker started as right back. The biggest pre-match headline, though, was the inclusion of Sancho for the first time at Euro 2020.
Sancho was charged with stretching the pitch on the right side, giving England an an out-ball. Mason Mount had something of a drifting role which saw the Chelsea midfielder get close to Sancho in order to prevent the Borussia Dortmund winger from becoming isolated on the touchline.
This isn’t to say Sancho was wedded to this position. Indeed, the 21-year-old surged through the middle on more than one occasion, with Walker pushing forward to maintain the width. On paper, Southgate’s shape was a 4-2-3-1 with Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice as the midfield platform, but it also shifted between a 4-3-3 and even a 3-4-3 as Luke Shaw pushed forward.
BIG WINNER - Luke Shaw
Just one week on from yet more critical comments of Luke Shaw from Jose Mourinho, the 25-year-old showed why he is now considered one of the best full backs in Europe. Indeed, Shaw was a constant threat down the left side against Ukraine, contributing two assists as England showed a different dimension to their play in the attacking third.
This was the perfect modern full back performance. Not only was Shaw mobile in the way he surged up and down the left wing for the full 65 minutes he was on the pitch, his final ball was sharp. The fact Southgate withdrew Shaw early with the game already won demonstrated his worth to England right now.
BIG LOSER - Gareth Southgate's critics
If England’s win over Germany in the round of 16 wasn’t enough to get the critics off Southgate’s back, this surely was. While the 50-year-old still maintained the structure of his team throughout, he recognised the opportunity to truly press home England’s superior quality against an opponent that just couldn’t match them.
Southgate’s team selections at Euro 2020 have been analysed intensely, but his use of his squad as a whole at this tournament can’t be questioned. England managed this game, but in a way that still allowed them to attack. Southgate hasn’t just proved himself as a dressing room leader, but as a tactician.
Pickford 5 - While Jordan Pickford made one solid save to deny Roman Yaremchuk at a crucial stage of the match in the first half, he was rash in coming off his line to make a clearance just after 70 minutes. It didn’t cost England, but Southgate didn’t look too pleased on the touchline.
Maguire 8 - This was another performance that underlined Maguire’s importance to this England team. He was crucial to the way the Three Lions played out from the back and effectively put the result beyond doubt by getting his head on the end of a Shaw freekick into the box.
Stones 6 - Yaremchuk gave the England defence something to think about, and got the better of Stones more than once, but it would be harsh to criticise the Manchester City centre back for another good performance.
Shaw 9 - Deployed in a higher position than was the case in his previous three games at Euro 2020, Luke Shaw was an attacking threat down the left side. His final product was good too, demonstrated by his free-kick delivery for Maguire’s header at the start of the second half. He could have finished with a couple more assists too.
Walker 5 - Favoured over Kieran Trippier on the right side of the defence, Ukraine identified Kyle Walker as something of a weak link in the first half. However, the 31-year-old fared better in the second period as Ukraine started to tire.
Phillips 7 - While many debated whether Kalvin Phillips should even be included in England’s squad for this tournament, the Leeds United midfielder has made himself undroppable with a series of composed performances. This was another one.
Rice 6 - Withdrawn just before the hour mark, this wasn’t Declan Rice’s most eye-catching display, but Southgate will be pleased with how the West Ham midfielder maintained the structure of the side in the centre of the pitch and kept things ticking over with his prudent use of the ball.
Mount 6 - Back in the team after a period of Covid-19 self-isolation, it was up to Mason Mount to lead the England press from deep. This might have been down to Kane’s lack of physicality, but it had the additional benefit of pushing England’s midfield further forward.
Sancho 8 - Selected to start his first match of the tournament, Jadon Sancho gave England forward thrust down the right side. He was also afforded the freedom to drift into the middle on the ball which helped create overloads for England.
Sterling 8 - This continues to be Raheem Sterling’s tournament. While the Manchester City attacker didn’t get on the score sheet here, he created the opening from which England took a grip of the game after just four minutes. Sterling played predominantly on the left, but also operated through the middle and even on the right at times. This gave England real fluidity in attack.
Kane 8 - Having faced much criticism for his performances earlier in the tournament, Kane is now well and truly up and running. The 27-year-old showed trademark goalscoring instincts to bag a brace to take his Euro 2020 tally to three goals. Even when only half-fit, Kane leads the line better than any other striker on England’s books.
Harry Kane of England celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Ukraine and England at Olimpico Stadium on July 03, 2021 in Rome, Italy.
Image credit: Getty Images
Henderson 6 - Making only his second appearance of Euro 2020, Jordan Henderson came off the bench to press home England’s advantage, scoring a header from a corner kick to make it 4-0.
Trippier 4 - Kieran Trippier’s main purpose in this match was to afford Shaw some rest on the left side, but he still offered England something of an outlet in his absence.
Bellingham 5 - Southgate still found time to give England fans a glimpse of the future as Jude Bellingham was introduced off the bench after 65 minutes. His energy kept England’s foot on the throat of Ukraine in the latter stages.
Rashford 3 - Given 25 minutes to make an impression, Marcus Rashford was a peripheral figure in the time he was on the pitch. This just hasn’t been his tournament so far.