England maintained their winning start to Euro 2024 qualifying with a comfortable victory over Ukraine at Wembley.
Gareth Southgate’s side built on the foundation of their first away win against Italy since 1961 with an efficient performance that was more than enough to see off the visitors.
England struggled to build any momentum until record scorer Harry Kane made it 55 international goals when he bundled in Bukayo Saka’s cross at the far post eight minutes before half-time.
The second arrived three minutes later and was all Saka’s own work, the Arsenal winger turning away from his man on the edge of the area and curling a superb effort beyond the reach of Anatoliy Trubin and into the top corner.
Leicester City’s James Maddison made a good impression on his first England start while Brentford’s Ivan Toney won his first cap as a late substitute, captain Kane making way once there was never any serious danger of a Ukrainian comeback.
Saka is part of England’s young generation that Southgate hopes will form a key component of their Euro 2024 campaign and the quest to finally claim a major trophy – and what a talent he is.
Saka has been outstanding as Arsenal lead the Premier League table and after a fine World Cup in Qatar he has simply carried on the form he has been showing all season.
He was a constant danger down England’s right flank and the 21-year-old merely confirmed what he is showing on an almost weekly basis, namely that he has a golden future ahead of him.
Saka’s cross unlocked a well-organized Ukraine defence for Kane to pounce and set England on their way before producing a superb piece of individual skill to effectively end the contest.
England manager Southgate could not have hoped for a better start to these qualifiers as two of arguably their more testing fixtures have resulted in maximum points.
And he will be happy with portions of England’s performances in both games, particularly the first half against Italy in Naples and the manner in which they closed this game out with the minimum of fuss.
England are the favourites to qualify at the top of their group and secure a place at the Euros in Germany, where they will be among those touted as potential winners, and these opening two games have certainly justified that status.
They survived a poor second half in Italy and a drab first half-hour here but the end results certainly count as a job well done.