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England vs Ukraine EURO 2024 Qualifier

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re all well.

On Sunday 26th March 2023, I attended England vs Ukraine at Wembley Stadium in a European qualifier for UEFA’s EURO 2024. This was the first game at Wembley in 2023 and since the World Cup last December, it was a sell out with lots of Ukrainian fans coming over to show their support. As you will all know by now, I go to university in Wembley Stadium, so it was a less than 5 minute walk to the match! We managed to catch the buses going in although they travelled incognito in a plain black bus with tinted windows so it was impossible to see anything England related. We sat on the lower tier with a great view of the whole pitch, and strangely enough I realised after the game I sat in the exact same seat a year ago to this date with my friend Kai when we watched England vs Switzerland.

England’s 2022 ended with heartbreak at the World Cup as they fell short to France in a 2-1 loss. Now, in 2023 all attention is on qualifying for EURO 2024, England came into the game off the back of an away 2-1 victory over Italy and sat top of Group C’s table.

This was Ukraine’s first professional game since September 2022, where they drew to Scotland in the Nations League. The Ukrainian squad had been in London for a week and had ironically played against Brentford B in a warmup game a few days prior, they came away with a 2-0 victory.

The England squad had multiple changes throughout and before camp, including the loss of Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount. Gareth Southgate made 3 changes to his line-up compared to the Italy game, these saw James Maddison, Jordan Henderson and Ben Chilwell come in to replace Jack Grealish, Kalvin Phillips and a suspended Luke Shaw. A day before the game Reece James and Phil Foden had to leave camp due to injuries/illness, in my opinion these two would’ve started but it gave players like Maddison an opportunity to come in to the game.

Before the game both teams came together to express their support and solidarity for the country of Ukraine who have been and are still going through a devastating period of time. The support from the travelling fans was fantastic and they supported their team from the first whistle flying their flag high with pride.

Bukayo Saka’s superb solo strike saw England sail through their two games with six points after a 2-0 win over Ukraine

In a sunny, but cold Wembley; England began the game struggling to get out of their own half with pressure being applied by the visitors.

The home side grew into game but lacked the fluidity and momentum they possessed in the first half of the Italy game just 3 nights before.

Ukraine had some good phases of play and looked dangerous on counterattacks. Despite being offside Roman Yaremchuk put a shot just wide of the far post after receiving a ball through the middle of England’s two centre backs.

Bukayo Saka tested the Ukrainian goalkeeper with a shot from outside the box, the winger was far out, and the shot should’ve been simple enough for Anatoliy Trubin to gather. Although, James Maddison was applying pressure leading to the keeper dropping the ball, the Leicester midfielder was unable to capitalise on the mistake and instead was given a foul against him.

The hosts’ set piece deliveries disappointingly lacked quality throughout the majority of the game with Ukraine able to easily deal with the pressure.

Kyle Walker’s pace came in handy against Mykhailo Mudryk, after winning the ball off him he was able to release his team on the break. Jordan Henderson spotted Maddison’s run through middle, but the pass was blocked ending hopes of a counterattack.

After having an open first 35 minutes it was England who broke the deadlock. Carrying on from his historical week of being named England’s top goal scorer, Captain Harry Kane netted his 55th goal for the Three Lions getting on the end of a Saka cross.

Just three minutes later the Arsenal winger turned from provider to scorer. Saka did well to hold off his man before turning towards goal, making a short driving run and finally unleashing a fantastic strike into the far top corner for his 8th England goal!

Harry Kane was presented with another shot, but this one was straight at the keeper.

The second half was very flat with few notable moments.

Some lovely footwork was on display from James Maddison, unfortunately his shot let him down and went straight into the England ultras behind the goal.

The game possessed more individual good performances as opposed to a strong team performance; for example following on from a solid performance on Thursday night Jude Bellingham yet again shone for the Three Lions with some good driving runs and showing his quality all over the pitch.

Gareth Southgate looked to his bench in the 81st minute (which in my opinion was too late) and brought Ivan Toney on to make his England debut. He was later followed by Connor Gallagher and Jack Grealish, these subs made as much impact as they could in the short amount of time they had and offered some new energy.

The end of the game saw a surge of chances for England …but none that could be taken. Gallagher was denied from close range by a good save from Trubin. Fellow substitute Grealish was also close to scoring but a header down from Harry Maguire was just too far out of reach for the Manchester City winger, leaving the game to end in a 2-0 victory for the hosts.

England now go into their next round of fixtures with a comfortable 6 point lead and sit at the top of the table. The three lions’ next game is away to Malta in June before facing North Macedonia at Old Trafford.

My next game is against Leicester back at Selhurst Park, so look out for that post.

Thank you for reading.

Ellie Xx


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