Harry Kane carries England past Ukraine, into Euro soccer semifinals
England is going back home — with something to play for.
It was the only match of Euro 2020 that England had to play away from Wembley Stadium, and it was the team’s most dominant performance of the tournament.
“I’ve said it all along it’s all about peaking for the right time,” Kane said. “We are on the right track.”
Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson also scored as England kept a clean sheet for the fifth straight match of the competition.
It marked the first time that England scored four goals in the knockout stage of a major tournament since beating West Germany 4-2 in the 1966 World Cup final.
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England now goes back to London to face Denmark on Wednesday. The Danes beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in Baku.
“We haven’t done nothing yet,” Kane said. “We’ve got a semifinal at Wembley. What a moment for us as a team, as a nation. It’s there for us. It’s an opportunity for us. We have to grab it with both hands.”
Italy will face Spain in the other semifinal match Tuesday, with the final next weekend also to be played at Wembley.
The last time England made it to the last four of the European Championship was in 1996. But the bigger goal at this point is to duplicate the success of the 1966 England team that won the World Cup on home soil.
Kane scored on England’s first opportunity in the fourth minute, using one touch to redirect a through ball from Raheem Sterling for his second goal in as many matches. The ball went in off the shoulder of goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan inside the near post.
England also scored early in the second half after Kane was fouled about 10 seconds. A free kick from Luke Shaw set up a header from Maguire. Four minutes later, Kane got his second by heading in another cross from Shaw on a play that included a backheel pass from Sterling as England dazzled.
After failing to score in the group stage, Kane now has three goals in two matches after also scoring in the 2-0 win over Germany in the last 16.
“Sometimes as a striker it falls your way, sometimes it doesn’t,” Kane said. “That’s just part and parcel of being a striker.”
Kane won the Golden Boot with six goals the 2018 World Cup, when England also reached the semifinals. He exited to a standing ovation at the Stadio Olimpico when he came off midway through the second half.
Because of the pandemic, the Olimpico could only be 25% full with about 16,000 fans.
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Denmark 2, Czech Republic 1
Denmark, which has developed into a surprise contender after its tournament began with midfielder Christian Eriksen suffering cardiac arrest on the field, advanced to the semifinals by beating the Czech Republic in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Following the usual tributes to the recovering Eriksen from UEFA and fans — a giant No. 10 shirt laid out on the field and a “For Christ10an” banner in the stands — Denmark quickly took control against the Czechs on a hot and humid night.
Jens Stryger sent an outswinging corner in the fifth minute to Thomas Delaney, standing in space by the penalty spot. Delaney’s bouncing header went in past the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.
Denmark doubled the lead just before halftime. Joakim Maehle hit a cross from the left using the outside of his right foot. The ball eluded Martin Braithwaite’s attempt at a header, but Kasper Dolberg got past his marker and beat Vaclik in the 42nd.
The place in the semifinals is the furthest Denmark has progressed at a major tournament since winning the European title in 1992.
Czech Republic forward Patrik Schick scored his fifth goal at the beginning of the second half, putting him even with Cristiano Ronaldo as the tournament’s leading scorers. Schick was given plenty of space by defender Jannik Vestergaard to hit a first-touch shot off Vladimir Coufal’s curled pass.
Denmark lost its first two games at Euro 2020, first against Finland — when Eriksen collapsed on the field — and then to Belgium. The Danes were on the verge of elimination before beating Russia, Wales and the Czechs in succession.
Eriksen, who had to be resuscitated with a defibrillator in that opening match, has been recovering at home.
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