“Football’s coming home” is a refrain often sung in knowing self-defeatism, but England are at least now returning to Wembley for a first European Championship semi-final since 1996 after blowing away Ukraine at the start of each half at the Stadio Olimpico.
Continuing to put aside his early tournament woes, Harry Kane opened the scoring with a fourth-minute strike when he latched onto an eye-of-a-needle pass from Raheem Sterling, toe-poking the ball past Heorhiy Bushchan in the Ukraine goal.
England struck even earlier at the start of the second half, this time when Harry Maguire headed in a pinpoint delivery from Manchester United teammate Luke Shaw in the 46th minute.
It was Shaw’s excellent service which was again the key four minutes later when he provided a cross for Kane to head between Bushchan’s legs to kill the game.
More suspect Ukrainian defending at set-pieces was to blame when England substitute Jordan Henderson found space to head in unmarked in the 63rd minute to complete the rout and register his first ever goal for the Three Lions.
This kind of comfort does not come easy to England at major tournaments, but Gareth Southgate’s men rode out some ropey first-half moments to nullify a sporadically dangerous but tired-looking Ukraine team with a performance that stands them out as real contenders this time round.
Denmark will be no pushovers at Wembley on Wednesday and the Danes again proved their own credentials with a hard-fought win over the Czech Republic earlier in the day, but England have no less momentum and boast a defence which is still to concede a goal at this summer’s tournament.