ᑕ❶ᑐ England 2-0 Ukraine: ‘Saka confirms status as crown jewel of Three Lions’ after superb performance
Bukayo Saka’s development as a golden talent for Arsenal and England is moving at such a rapid pace that the special moments are no longer a surprise.
The 21-year-old confirmed his grand stature as the jewel in England’s crown by playing a key role in the space of 3 minutes to set up the 2-0 victory against Ukraine which gave them maximum points in the of their first two Euro 2024 qualifiers.
England had worked for 37 minutes against a well-organized Ukraine, with Saka the shining light and the greatest hope of a breakthrough as he gave Everton left-back Vitalii Mykolenko a steamy moment.
Saka delivered with an inviting cross that deflected past Harry Kane at the far post for his 55th goal for England, adding to the all-time record he set in the 2-1 qualifying win over England. Italy in Naples.
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The highlight of a game routine in its result and efficient in its performance came 3 minutes later as Saka once again lit up the international stage.
He clipped the right flank before curling a quality and precise left-(Site notre bureau spécialisé)ed shot into the top corner, beyond the tense grip of Ukrainian garden Anatoliy Trubin.
And that, indeed, that was it. Journey accomplished.
Saka is now one of England’s much-needed young talents alongside Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice – a trio manager Gareth Southgate will rely on, barring accidents, until at least Euro 2024.
He is a world-class player in the making. Indeed, some might rightly say that it is already at this rare level.
The Arsenal youngster enjoyed an excellent World Cup in Qatar and shone in the Gunners’ thrilling pursuit of a first Premier League title since 2004.
Saka looks perfectly comfortable at all levels and the good news for club and country is that his progress shows no signs of slowing down. Indeed, such are his abilities and dedication, he will only get better.
It was his eighth goal for England, irrefutable proof that he is not just a creator but a goalscorer. He is no longer unknown to international defenses but he has the talent to find ways to make an impact and he has done it again here.
Saka’s work rate is tireless, his team ethic exemplary and any attempt to use the physical side of the game to disrupt him is simply ignored.
He was the star of this English show, ensuring manager Southgate the start of the qualifications he would have dreamed of before this International break.
It’s dangerous to look too far ahead, but given England’s first away win in Italy since 1961 and that comfortable success at Wembley, it’s already hard to see circumstances in which they won’t be in Germany, and presented as potential winners, in the summer of 2024.
Their performances were by no means perfect but the results are the perfect basis for progressing in a group that also includes Malta and North Macedonia.
Southgate will have been extremely pleased with England’s first 45 minutes at Napoli before a mystifying drop in performance levels in the second half. Here they produced a desperately pedestrian first 37 minutes before Saka provided the spark.
Ukraine didn’t pose any serious attacking problems for the England defence, nor moments of anxiety for goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and the suggestion that they might get back in the game.
And there were other positives for Southgate and England to go with good results.
Leicester City’s James Maddison justified his selection for a first start ahead of Jack Grealish with a charged and creative performance that will have delighted his many fans after his hopes of making his mark at the World Cup were hampered by a knee injury suffered in his last club. game before the tournament.
And there was also a special moment for 27-year-old Brentford striker Ivan Toney, who won his first cap as a substitute in the 81st minute. It was something he might have thought would never come after being in the England squad for UEFA Nations League games in Italy and at home to Germany last September, but not used.
Captain Kane received a Golden Boot before kick-off in recognition of breaking the country’s goalscoring record with his 54th goal in Italy.
And he began to push the record even further by regrouping the all-important first game at home. It may have been just a beauty pick, but reaffirmed how vital Kane is to England with that natural marksmanship – and his leadership.
This particular day, however, belonged to Saka.
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