Tag Archives: three lions

The Harrys’ maul Ukraine with much vigour as England cruise to the last 4!

While England in the group stages of the Euro Championship had done well to not concede a single goal, I was honestly a little disturbed with their attacking potential as The Three Lions had barely managed to mount only two goals in three games courtesy Raheem Sterling.

Not the attacking intent one would associate with a forward line boasting the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho.

Having said this, as the tournament moved to the business end, so did England’s confidence with Germany being hammered 2-0 in the pre-quarters thanks to a strike from Sterling and Kane.

Well, as they say when a team is brimming with confidence, the world is at their feet!

Ask Ukraine and they will most definitely agree as they witnessed an English team run riot last night with a 4-0 mauling in the quarters at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

This courtesy a brace from captain Harry Kane along with a solitary strike from Harry Maguire and a bonus from Jordan Henderson.

What made me even happier is how keeper Jordan Pickford managed to keep a clean sheet on the fifth successive occasion equalling a record that was previously held by the Italian side in the 1990 World Cup.

So as The Three Lions marched to the last 4 with much confidence, lets dissect how Ukraine’s determination was all but shattered courtesy a stunning display by the World Cup semi-finalists:

Kane strikes early

Even before this contest began one would have anticipated a comfortable English victory as such is the gap between the two teams in question, with the world no. 4 in England playing a team loitering at 24 in Ukraine.

Well, the contest began exactly to this tune as only in the 4th minute Raheem Sterling orchestrated a fine run through the Ukraine defence sending a mouth-watering pass to Harry Kane who made no mistake in putting England in front.

Credit – Reuters

With this goal, Kane scored his second in the tournament and one could see glimpses of the old Harry, the talismanic match winner for England.

Ukraine, a goal down looked desperate to equalise to keep their dream run relevant in this competition with a 17th minute strike from Yaremchuk as the ball was paired away by an alert Jordan Pickford.

As the game continued, The Three Lions mounted two more opportunities through midfielder Declan Rice and Jadon Sancho albeit the Ukraine keeper stood firm to not concede a second.

England were only 1-0 up despite chances galore as the referee called time on the first 45.

Courtesy the Harry-Henderson show, England mount three in the second 45

As the second half began the 1-0 score line in a matter of moments became 2-0.

Harry Maguire was the destroyer with a fantastic header from a Luke Shaw cross in just the first minute of the second half. Ukraine were rocked early and any ambitions of mounting a comeback looked all but uncertain.

Credit – Reuters

Their comeback in a matter of three further minutes suffered another massive dent as the other Harry, the captain of England scored his brace courtesy a header from another fine cross by Luke Shaw as the English winger indulged in some brilliant interplay with Raheem Sterling to put the Ukraine defence in sixes and sevens.

Credit – Reuters

The East European nation was all but deflated with the third strike of sorrow as their hope of reaching the semi-final was fast fading.

Harry Kane almost made it four for England enroute to a hat-trick, when in the 61st minute he fired a fearsome left-footed strike that was just kept out by the Ukraine keeper, Bushchan.

In a matter of moments, England did get their fourth, through Jordan Henderson who did well with a close-range header from a Mason Mount corner as the Liverpool captain registered his maiden strike on the England goal scoring list.

Credit – Reuters

Ukraine by now were only thinking of the best flight options to fly out of Rome straight to Kyiv as the Wembley dream was all but sealed for England.

As the full 90 ended, the final score read Ukraine 0 – 4 England.

The Danish date awaits England at Wembley

As the tournament now moves to Wembley for the semi-finals and the all-important final hurrah, The Three Lions have had quite a journey this far winning 4 out of the 5 games and not conceding a single goal.

Next up they face a purposeful side in Denmark who are desperate to conquer Europe for their inspirational midfielder, Christian Eriksen.

This contest will surely be one of epic proportions as a determined England with the mantra of ‘lets bring it back’ will lock horns with the most purposeful team of the competition in the Dynamic Danes.

Lots to look forward to as remember my Dear England you’re just two wins way from bringing the cup home. Surely, you can’t falter now!

SOUTHGATE’S Ecstatic England avenge ’96 with Commanding Win over Germany

A little over 25 years to this day on June 26th, 1996 an English team having got the better of Spain in the quarter-finals locked horns with a confident German side in the semi-finals of Euro’96 at the home of football, Wembley.

I was all of 12 then, finding my feet in life and more so football. Not knowing much about the sport, I sat on the couch with my Dad who as the match went on baptised me into this beautiful game. England and Germany amid plenty of English cheers played out a 1-1 draw with Alan Shearer and Stefan Kuntz registering their names on the score sheet.

The match went into penalties and my eyes popped-out looking at the sheer excitement of this contest. The penalties stood at 6-5 in Germany’s favour as a young Englishmen in Gareth Southgate took the 6th shot which was saved by the German keeper.

The Three Lions had lost amid dejection galore at Wembley and somehow, I also felt very devastated breaking into tears. Little did I know then that this contest would ignite my passion for English football to mould me into a staunch Three Lions supporter.

An ambitious Germany had once again knocked England out of a major tournament which tormented many English fans including me for over quarter of a century. Having said this, our disappointment wouldn’t even come close to what Southgate must have left being the perpetrator of this cardinal sin.

Well, everyone deserves a second chance to mend their misery and Southgate as England’s Manager did precisely that with a devastating 2-0 annihilation of Germany last evening.

The debacle of 1996 couldn’t have been avenged on a more befitting occasion. The same tournament, The Euro Championship in a knock-out game at the same venue amid a 45,000 strong English support after seven previous attempts resulting in tears of torment at Wembley.

So, as my heart fills with joy much like every other English fan, lets dissect this rather eventful game that sent Germany packing akin to Hitler’s forces retreating courtesy a brave Winston Churchill:

Spoils were shared in the first 45 though England look marginally better

I was a tad disappointed to see England play a 3-4-3 formation with seven defensive options including three defenders and four defensive midfielders. It seemed to me then, that Southgate wanted to focus on defence to tire out Germany’s attacking threats and eventually score with more attack minded substitutes closer to the final 90.

In truth, I wanted England to be more attacking from the word go.

As was expected, Germany began the game on a high, mounting forward to put England’s defence under pressure with Goretzka angling a long right footed strike towards the bottom left corner of the English net that was rather comfortably grabbed by Jordan Pickford.

Minutes later much to my surprise, England would show signs of their own attacking flair as John Stones and Declan Rice built up a nice move, aiding the ball to Raheem Sterling whose powerful strike was barely squeezed out by Manuel Neuer.

The resultant corner would see the German keeper pouch Harry Maguire’s header.

What also impressed me was how Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw, the two English wingers were constantly building a head of steam on the flanks as Germany was slowly being put under pressure amid creating opportunities albeit no goals.

Credit – Reuters

On the opposite end though, Die Mannschaft almost went ahead in the 33rd minute, with arguably the best opportunity created so far in the game as Kai Havertz drifted into a pocket of space to offer a fine pass to his Chelsea team-mate Timo Werner whose left-footed strike was fantastically saved by Pickford as he spread his legs to smother the ball away.

The game was slowly coming alive with both teams showing attacking intent contrary to what I believed England would do.

In stoppage time, The Three Lions had their best opportunity.

Raheem Sterling powered inward as he was blocked by Ginter whose intervention gave the ball to Harry Kane. The English captain till then was donning a spectator’s role having done nothing of much consequence as he turned around keeper Neuer, ready to put the ball in before the experienced German defender Matt Hummels made a crucial intervention deflecting the ball away.

As time was called on the first 45, a contest which could so easily have been 1 apiece was yet to see a goal!

Wembley witnesses the Kane and Sterling show much to England’s delight

Germany much like the first half started the second 45 with a positive outlook as a long spell of possession between Muller and Gosens finally paved the way for a rampaging strike by Havertz that was just barely tipped over by Pickford.

England were lucky not be a goal down.

As the game progressed, Germany continued to mount more attempts albeit no goals as England finally broke the deadlock in the 75th minute.

Raheem Sterling stormed in feeding the ball to Kane who crucially offloaded it to Grealish as The Aston Villa captain released it to Luke Shaw who sent it back to Sterling with the Manchester City forward slotting the ball in to give him his third goal of the competition.

Credit – Mirror

More importantly The Three Lions had got their opener in a crucial knock-out game as Wembley erupted with boisterous passion.

Germany continued to fight as Muller came close to equalising albeit hitting the ball wide.

This further fuelled the fire to ignite the English desire as in a matter of moments, The Three Lions would go two to the good, this time courtesy captain courageous, Harry Kane who finally found his mojo with a crucial header from a Jack Grealish cross.

Credit – Reuters

The final nail in the German coffin was hammered by this Kane strike as a relieved Southgate was overjoyed with emotion much like every English supporter at Wembley and millions more watching at home including me.

England had won their first competitive game against Germany in well over 50 years dating back to the 1966 World Cup final.

My heart went out to a dejected Joachim Löw, who looked all but lost as England celebrated. The legendary German Manager had failed Die Mannschaft in his last game albeit his 15-year long career is worthy of every praise with a World Cup win being one of his many accolades.

The elusive Euro Title is now just 3 wins way, starting with Ukraine

With this rather commanding win over Germany, a confident England will now lock horns with Ukraine in the quarters.

Truth be told, with the performance we have seen last evening, I would pin my favourites England as the favourites to triumph in this contest.

So, go on my Three Lions beat Ukraine, and then the countdown to create history will be at two to conquer Europe without much ado!

Super Sterling powers England into the Round of 16 with crucial win over Czech Republic

In my previous article, I had emphasised a conspiracy theory to justify England’s sub-par performance in the 0-0 outing against The Scots.

The theory was simple, England didn’t plan to top their group to avoid locking horns with the powerhouses of European football in the next round in either of France, Germany or Portugal. Having said this, the fan in me surely hoped for a marked improvement in their next fixture against The Czechs to only keep this as a theory.

Boy, did the fan defeat the theorist with a determined 1-0 showing by The Three Lions to not only beat The Czechs but also top Group D.

With this win, England also reached a small landmark of mounting ten goals and conceding only two in four games contested against The Czechs at their fortress, Wembley.

In truth, I was more than delighted to be rightfully proven wrong on my conspiracy theory!

So, without further ado lets dissect this much-needed shot of confidence, The Three Lions earned heading into the business end of the competition.

Raheem Sterling lights up the first 45

England started this fixture with two key players not in the squad in Mason Mount who was isolating and Phil Foden who was excluded as he sat on a yellow to allow him to be available for the round of 16.

Well, one man’s loss is another man’s gain, and in England’s case it was two, as Arsenal’s young midfielder Bukayo Saka was brought into the playing XI along with Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish in place of Mount and Foden.

And boy, did they make an immediate impact, as only in the 12th minute, Saka hit an overhead cross into the Czech D which was kept alive by Jack Grealish on the left corner as he fed Sterling with a great chip, and the Manchester City forward made no mistake in nodding it in.

Credit – Reuters

The Three Lions were a goal up in no time, a remarkable improvement from their previous fixture where the full 90 couldn’t get them on the score sheet.

As time marched on, England would mount their second effort, this time through captain and talismanic forward Harry Kane with Czech keeper, Vaclik deflecting the ball away.

Credit – Reuters

Moments later, the Czechs had their first attempt on target as Jordan Pickford dived to his left to push the strike away.

Kane would fire his second attempt on target minutes before half time as the shot was again kept out by the resilient keeper, Vaclik.

With no further uncertainties, the first half ended as England led 1-0.

The second 45 fails to excite

One could be excused for taking a break from watching the second half as this contest all but lacked excitement up until the 86th minute when England substitute and Liverpool captain, Jordan Henderson drilled one in, only to be adjudged off-side.

England and Henderson were convinced that the goal should have been allowed as the ball was played back to the Liverpool man through a Czech player albeit VAR was firm on its decision to rule it otherwise. Had the goal stood, the Liverpool skipper would have scored his first for the national team in 60 appearances.

Credit – Reuters

As a Liverpool and English fan, with a heavy heart had to accept the no goal.

With this being the only action of any significance in the second 45, England deservedly were the victors with a steady display as time was called on the game.

A tough outing awaits England in the pre-quarters

As a die-hard English faithful, I would have to say England’s performance so far in the group stage has been anything but exciting.

With the solitary two strikes from Sterling leading to two victories, The Three Lions have failed to light up the tournament with goals galore contrary to what was expected with a strong forward line boasting the likes of Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and one of the best centre forwards in world football, Harry Kane.

Speaking about Harry Kane, our captain has looked all but lost in the opposition D this far. I am not sure where the problem is but his finishing has lacked the skill we usually associate with this English talisman.

Yes, our defence has looked solid with no goals conceded and has received a further boost with a fully fit Harry Maguire who played the full 90 yesterday albeit what worries me is the lack of goals scored upfront.

With either of France, Germany or Portugal up next on the 29th, The Three Lions need to be far more decisive and complete to mount the goals we have come to expect of them.

Remember my Dear England, you are now just four games away from lifting the elusive Euro Championship.

Surely this is motivation enough to witness the mighty roar of The Three Lions contrary to the tame meow we have had to bear this far!

England put up a Sterling show to sink Croatia at Wembley!

England much like the South African cricket teams of the past have been pre-tournament favourites for many albeit for reasons beyond my comprehension always manage to deceive at crucial moments.

Yes, with a momentous showing in the 2018 World Cup, The Three Lions at a time when they were soaring to the finals, somehow came second best to Croatia in the semi-finals.

A decisive moment left England struggling at Moscow as Mario Mandžukić sealed the deal for the East European nation in extra time. English hearts and hearts around the world were broken. Again!

Well, as they say life comes a full circle as a certain measure of revenge was extracted yesterday by The Three Lions as they sank Croatia by a margin of one goal in the opening fixture amid a 22,000 strong Wembley.

The only word missing from the English performance was complete albeit they managed to arrest their opening fixture winless streak in the Euros having drawn five and lost four in their nine previous attempts.

This without having a Manchester United or Liverpool player in the starting XI since almost the start of time! Am sure, you get the picture of the importance these two champion clubs command on English football.

Truth be told, a win is a win at the end of the day and being an English faithful, I was happy with this showing to start on a high as we dissect the English performance in the opening game of Group D:

The Three Lions start brightly only to fizzle out in the first 45

The hosts marched out on the pitch at the home of football with purpose led by their inspirational leader, Harry Kane amid cheers aplenty.

With iconic defender, Harry Maguire still injured and Liverpool’s stalwart midfielder Jordan Henderson on the bench, young Tyrone Mings and Kalvin Phillips started the game.

As the contest began, The Three Lions looked all but up for this as young English sensation, Phil Foden created England’s first opportunity on goal in only the 6th minute when his shot hit the post.

Credit – Reuters

This after the Manchester City midfielder sporting a new blonde hairdo received a majestic pass from club compatriot Raheem Sterling and did well to strike from his favoured left foot.

Croatia were lucky the ball didn’t go in and as they tried to resurrect their defence, three minutes later another English youngster, Kalvin Phillips’s attempt was tipped aside by the Croatian keeper, Livakovic.

Credit – Reuters

The Three Lions looked dominant, aggressive and very close to mounting a first on the score board.

As the game went on Croatia managed to find their feet and gained territory into the English half as the hosts attacking threats were nowhere as lethal as the first nine minutes. In truth, their offensive display looked all but fizzled out as the first 45 drew to a close.

A better showing in the second half was surely the need of the hour as England were desperate to right their opening game voodoo in the European Championship.

The Sterling and Phillips show lights up England in the second 45

As the second 45 began, the voodoo was finally righted courtesy Raheem Sterling and for me more importantly Kalvin Phillips. It’s funny how the builder of an opportunity or rather the contributor vis-à-vis the striker never gets the deserved credit.

Credit – Reuters

Well, the Leeds United man did when in the 56th minute, he made a majestic run to dodge two men and offered a fine pass to Raheem Sterling in the Croatian D who made no mistake in slotting the ball pass Livakovic in the back of the net.

A perfect build up from England’s holding midfielder who in this game played more like an attacking option, put the hosts in front as they exploited the perfect gap in the Croatian defence. The move was simply brilliant and deservedly, so Kalvin Phillips was awarded the player of the match.

This move was enough for an English onslaught resurrection as minutes later Harry Kane missed a chance to put England two to the good as his shot from a Mason Mount cross went high.

England would continue creating more goal scoring opportunities as Chelsea midfielder, Mason Mount hit the ball inches above the post from a free kick in the 66th minute followed by Sterling missing another good opportunity to score.

With no further twists, as the referee called time England came out as the rightful winners in a game where the hosts could have mounted more goals.

Going forward, England need to showcase a more decisive and complete brand of football

The Three Lions need to depict a better showing in the games to follow against Czech Republic and Scotland to anoint themselves as the rightful leaders in this group.

To accomplish this, surely a 1-0 score line is not going to suffice as a more decisive and complete brand of football is the need of the hour with goals aplenty. Creating opportunities is one thing but converting them is also of vital essence where the hosts in this game were found lacking.

When The Three Lions proceed to the next round to face the likes of Portugal, France, Belgium and others, they will need to convert every opportunity to beat these European powerhouses.

Having said this, it’s just the opening game and an improved showing from the hosts will surely follow.

Go on my Three Lions, Europe awaits the might of your roar!