Euro 2020: reaction to England’s crushing win over Ukraine – as it happened

Last modified: 03: 59 PM GMT+0

All the latest Euro 2020 news and reaction to Saturday’s matches as thought turn to next week’s semi-finals

Right, that is it from today’s Euros blog. It has been a pleasure hearing your thoughts and answering questions throughout the day. You can find all of the Guardian Euro 2020 output via our dedicated landing page, here.

Until next time.

More takes from across the pond. Gregory Phillips emails in:

I watched the match on a dodgy BBC stream from my home in North Carolina while wearing my 2006 England shirt and messaging with a friend from Sunderland who lives in China. My stream was about a minute behind, so I kept missing the goals because my laptop would ping as I got his messages about the goals.

My brother pointed out how great it is not to panic during an England match, and I think we tended to panic because England always looked panicked when the opposition attacked. Not any more. It’s so strange to see England so solid at the back and so comfortable in possession.

And with back to back semis, England are finally a team that can rightly claim to be there or thereabouts at major tournaments. Reality has finally caught up to the expectations of 1982, the first World Cup featuring England I can remember.

Firstly Gregory, can I suggest you sort out your streaming arrangement for the semi-finals. I know the Spanish language channel Univision is showing all games free-to-air in the US or you can get a free trial to the likes of FuboTV which carries ESPN.

To your actual point, it is bloody lovely to see England playing with a bit of technical prowess. My formative years were spent watching the so-called ‘Golden Generation’ arrive at international tournaments and look technically inferior to almost everyone. It only took us 50 years, but the FA finally clocked that training youngsters to play rather than compete might be beneficial. Long may it last.

A view from California:

I’m an American, but I have been watching England matches closely for going on 30 years. This is the best England team I have ever seen. I keep saying that but England fans don’t believe me. This team doesn’t cede anything to continental opposition in terms of technical accomplishment or tactical acumen. They are a complete team with no significant weaknesses, even if their central midfielders are sometimes uninspired. They will beat Denmark comfortably and then be clear favourites against whoever they play in the final, including Italy. It’s remarkable that a player like Jadon Sancho struggles to break into the first team. Magnificent squad, truly.

Thanks, cnoyes98

Dean Meadows has emailed in praising my preamble (which is always appreciated), but importantly highlighting the progression of Southgate as England head coach:

Until this tournament Southgate had not completely either convinced us, or even himself, that he could really go all the way to the final of the Euros. However, from the first game his defenders instinct was to make a solid start from the back and England’s five clean sheets have progressively enlightened the masses regarding his foundational defensive instincts... “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles,” goes the famous quote from Sir Alex Ferguson.
Southgate for me (central defender for 25 years) has earned my total ‘unfettered’ respect in just the last five games. He was looking pretty good five games ago but now he’s looking as if he might just be a whole lot better than that. Onwards Gareth, ‘we’ are with you!


Marcus Christenson has had a look at the strengths, weaknesses, danger men and tactics of England’s opponents for the game on Wednesday:


Richard Noble asks:

Far from being a desperately worrying return to calamity, I think Pickford’s skyward roundhouse flying ninja clearing kick effort was in fact a clear expression of confidence in a sort of: ‘There! We can even cope with that! Hah! Pah! Nah! You’ll never score! Nyanyanynyanyah!’

What do you think?

I love where your head is at Richard, but if Pickford could keep his distribution to laser guided darts to men in white I would be very grateful.

This is lovely stuff from Colum Fordham, who was one of the limited Englishman at the Stadio Olimpico:

Stunning atmosphere last night at the Olimpico last night where I was lucky enough to go with another ex-pat British friend. For the first time in my life, aside from the 5-1 annihilation of Germany and possibly our 4-2 win over Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup in Naples (the only other England match I have watched live at the stadium), England were a joy to watch. Fluency, superb passing, self-belief, just another level. Sancho deserved seven. Kane has rediscovered his mojo, Luke Shaw was fantastic and Raheem Sterling simply awesome. And the singing at the stadium. Bring on the Danes. England hold their heads up high. Gareth Southgate is great.

So many passionate and proud England fans. I had to pinch myself and soak it up. I think we all realised winning 4-0 in a quarter-final does not come along often, whoever you are.

Jacob Steinberg was at the Stadio Olimpico last night, a stadium soon to be Jose Mourinho’s domain. Yet it was Luke Shaw, a player derided by the Portuguese, whose name was on the lips of those watching in Rome.

Great question this from Jeff Hawkes:

Should penalties count towards the golden boot? Surely Schick deserves it more than Ronaldo (to date). I’ve always thought that the player who wins it should have to take the peno.

Penalties are not easy and scoring them is not guaranteed, so for me they should count. I do like the idea that the player who wins it should take it though, I guess the only disadvantage would be if they were injured in the challenge?

Andrew Jarvis wants to praise John Stones, so I will let him:

Here’s a player as England fans we’ve been worried about for years, now we hardly mention him (which may be the biggest compliment we can pay him). Stones has been immense in the back line and led it immaculately - especially considering nearly every match has started with a different back line up around him. I feel that Maguire has been getting a lot more plaudits, but maybe because people haven’t expected him to be as good as he has been?

For me it is about having established partnerships in key positions, Stones has Walker, his City club mate, outside him, while Maguire and Shaw play on the left for United. Familiarity is essential in defending as you have to trust that those around you are where they are supposed to be.

Interesting find from Lars Bøgegaard in Copenhagen. Seven times England have played Denmark at Wembley and each game has followed a very similar pattern:

Det gælder om at score først på onsdag!

7 gange har #den mødt #eng på Wembley, alle 7 opgør har blot budt på en enkelt træffer.

1979: eng 1-0 den
1983: eng 0-1 den
1988: eng 1-0 den
1990: eng 1-0 den
1994: eng 1-0 den
2014: eng 1-0 den
2020: eng 0-1 den#engden #EURO2020

— (@danskfodboldcom) July 4, 2021

After continuing his impressive tournament form against Ukraine, Luke Shaw could be in line for a new deal at United...

Manchester United will offer Luke Shaw a new contract in the next months. He’s considered a key player and Solskjaer wants Luke to be 100% involved in the project. 🔴 #MUFC

There’s still nothing agreed with AC Milan for Diogo Dalot. Trippier price tag from Atleti - always €40m.

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 4, 2021

Owen Dodd asks:

I would love to hear your opinion on how England would set up against Italy or Spain should they win the semi final. Do they go back to a back three and play seven defenders similar to the game against Germany? Or do they put out a lineup similar to the one against Ukraine?

For Spain I would want a lot pace in the side as the likelihood is we will not be dominating the ball. I am pretty confident that England have the players to pick them off on the break as the Spanish defence has been far from convincing. Playing 3-4-3 would provide that extra security at the bacl, but I would play Sancho alongside Sterling and Kane for that breakaway threat.

The Italians would be a slightly different proposition, they are not quite as possession-obsessed as Spain but I still think England would want extra bodies at the back, so again I would go 3-4-3. However, for this one I would want Grealish in to keep the ball, win fouls to get us up the pitch and disrupt the Italians’ rhythm.

Graham Teigh has emailed in with some unabashed optimism:

I was at the England v Czech Republic game and as we were held near the steps waiting to be let onto Wembley Park Station after the game some ‘lad’ in all seriousness said out loud to his mates “I don’t think England will ever let another goal in ever again!”

Oh how we all laughed but as the tournament wears on I’m beginning to believe he might have had a point!

Palace confirm Vieira appointment

𝗪𝗲𝗹𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗣𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗲 🦅

We are delighted to confirm the appointment of Patrick Vieira as our new manager until 2024 ✍️#CPFC |

— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) July 4, 2021

Southgate was ever the statesman after the win over Ukraine:

If you have not listened to the pod yet, I would recommend doing so just to revel in the potential misery for Barry if England manage to win the whole thing...

'It would be in the top 10 worst moments of my life': @bglendenning offers some thoughts on the possibility of #ENG glory at #EURO2020 in the latest Football Daily, with @maxrushden @jonawils @JacobSteinberg @FloydTweet

— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) July 4, 2021

Spain’s players have presumably been listening to Journey on repeat, as even with Italy between them and a Euros final, they won’t stop believin’, according to forward Mikel Oyarzabal:

From the first day we were confident that we were a solid group, a united group and that we were good enough and we’ve proved that. People are free to say what they like, that’s part of football but we never had any doubts at any moment, we always believed in ourselves and we trust in ourselves for what is to come. [Italy are] a top level team with players who keep performing at the highest level with their clubs but we’re not any less than them. We have to keep having full confidence in ourselves, the way we play and the ideas we have and focus on producing a big performance regardless of who we’re playing.

If Denmark were playing England in a beer-spraying competition on Wednesday, the Danes would probably be favourites.

The Denmark fans in Copenhagen are looking pretty happy...

— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) July 3, 2021

“First came the beer, then the delirium and, as sure as Harry Kane in front of goal, the collective hangover.” Josh Halliday on a joyful but also heavy night for some England fans.

Marcus Christenson has updated the Euro 2020 power rankings after the quarter finals...

Jonathan Liew’s piece on the action last night is worth a read.

What unfolded over these 90 minutes at the Stadio Olimpico was a kind of surreal cheese dream, a parallel universe in which England negotiate major knockout games with immaculate control.


Peter Hughes concurs with Jacob on Sancho’s performance:

It often seems to be the case that any player on the winning side gets bumped up a point or two.

How was Pickford an eight? He made one very simple save at the near post and a couple of incredibly dodgy clearances.

Sancho would probably get a six in my books, together with Walker. Don’t have much to quibble with on the rest.

Six-y Football. Jadon Sancho.
Six-y Football. Jadon Sancho. Photograph: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images


One of those clips which makes your lip quiver...

Det her klip med Pierre og holdkammeraterne… ❤️ #den

— Thomas Søgaard Rohde (@Thomas_Rohde) July 3, 2021

I haver said this a lot since the last 16 round got underway, but Denmark are a very good side. The Danes have the players to punish England if they are sloppy. I very much doubt Southgate will allow any complacency but I think it would be very dangerous for the media to underestimate Kasper Hjulmand’s squad.


I am not sure if Peter Hehir is a body language expert or just seeing what he wants to see.

He emailed in: As the players were celebrating on the pitch, Gareth had his arm round Grealish and spoke for several seconds in his ear. I guarantee from the body language he was saying - you are playing against Denmark.

We have our first dissenter. Rick Harris emails in:

Jacob clearly watched a different match to me as I would have given Sancho a seven, and Bellingham a seven too.

I don’t think Declan Rice was a nine. Kane yes. Shaw yes. Maguire yes

I also thought he was a bit harsh on Ukraine. I wouldn’t have put any of their players below a five. It wasn’t that they were that bad, it was simply that England were on a different level.

For me a seven is probably a fairer reflection of Sancho’s contribution, but he certainly did not make himself undroppable for the next game. I would not be surprised to see Southgate rotate that forward line against Denmark.

Jacob Steinberg rated Jadon Sancho’s as just a six, how did you see it?

Max and the Football Daily team have been discussing last night’s match, have a listen here:

Frank Chibundu Agu asks via email: Hello Tom, awesome win for England yesterday. What do you think though about the English team ALWAYS leaking before every match? Yesterday, it was leaked about five hours before it was announced. Don’t you think this might backfire soon?

In all honesty I do not think that this creates much of an advantage for the opposition. They will not be working on any tactical elements that late in the planning stage. It also gives fans time to come to terms with who is going to be picked, bringing down some of the toxicity when the official teamsheet comes out.

The BBC is has confirmed that England’s win over Ukraine pulled in a peak TV audience of 20.9m and 81.8% of available viewers.

Ukraine v England on the BBC is now the most-watched live TV event of the year, with a further 5.2m tuning it to the broadcast across BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport online.

The win over Germany drew a peak TV audience of 20.6 million, the BBC has said.

More than 17m people tuned into watch by the traditional method, while a further 3.5m people live-streamed the game across BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport. The peak of 20.6m meant the BBC had an 80% share of viewers available at the time.

England are pulling in Eastenders-sized viewing figures.
England are pulling in Eastenders-sized viewing figures. Photograph: BBC


We have had our first email of the day from Christopher Horner (no relation, I assume):

My hopes are high for England, and my expectations have not changed since before the Euros began. England have a superb squad and excellent individual players, and they have combined that with a strong team spirit. England can win the Euros.

My two worries are from different opposition; skilful flair teams like Spain and Italy, and a team flying so high on emotion that they can achieve anything. The latter (Denmark) could scupper England’s dreams next Wednesday with a display of organisation and resolve to fight for their fallen team mate that could win the day. If England survive that, then we face the possibility of playing a fragile but more skilful team in the final; Italy are superb but Spain can beat them. On their day, both Italy and Spain could beat England but can they next weekend?

My hopes and expectations have not changed. England will win the Euros after putting the whole nation through the wringer (twice).

Boxpark Croydon is a pretty good indicator of the national mood and if fans there are singing this number then you know Southgate must be doing alright...

Atomic Kitten finally sung the Southgate version 😂 #eng #ItsComingHome

— frankie (@francisobrienUK) July 3, 2021

‘In 72 minutes on the pitch he had four shots, won three headers, took 33 touches, intercepted, tackled and even dribbled. There was one wonderful, dipping, slashing shot – and Kane has a fearsome shot that he should deploy at every glimpse of daylight.’

Those are the words of Barney Ronay on Harry Kane last night. Fortunately for England, their star striker is rounding into form at just the right time.


Well here we are, England are in the semi-final of a major tournament for the second time in a row, they have not conceded a goal and even Jordan Henderson has scored. It is remarkable, but Gareth Southgate has only just achieved his pre-Euro 2020 goal of getting to the final four.

England’s head coach may have also finally banished the naysayers, those who treat every selection as a crime against football that they seek revenge for. Perhaps it is time to accept that Southgate knows a lot more about his players and what they need to do to win a football match than any pundit, armchair or otherwise.

While Southgate might not have been getting the respect he deserves, his England team have been able to follow up on the success of 2018 and bring the fans with them. This is a likeable group of players and even with England fans limited in their number at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, there was still very audible support.

Now the hard yards really start and Denmark will be no pushovers in the semi-final. Lost in the shuffle of England’s glory was the Danes’ quietly picking apart the Czech Republic, keeping Patrik Schick and company largely at bay. Denmark pose a threat in the opposition final third and are well organised at the back, not to mention they took four points off England with their impressive displays in the Nations League.

Do reach out if you have a point you would like to make, my contact details are in the bullet points above. I will also be feeding in any relevant news, reaction pieces from the Guardian’s writers and other bits throughout the day.



Tom Bassam

The GuardianTramp

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