Ukraine 1-1 England: Five things we learned

England were held to a 1-1 draw against Ukraine in Wroclaw. Kyle Walker scored his first England goal after Arsenal’s Oleksandr Zinchenko had out Ukraine ahead. England dropped points for the first time in their qualifying group. Here are five things we learned from the game.

Lack of attacking quality

Ukraine made it difficult for England by defending in numbers to stifle Gareth Southgate’s side. England enjoyed lots of possession but when it came to the final third, England were lacklustre. Jude Bellingham, James Maddison, Bukayo Saka and Harry Kane were finding it difficult to create chances in a tired performance from England. Saka crashed the crossbar in the second half but as England pushed for a winning goal, it never felt like it was going to come.

Harry Kane’s sublime assist

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Harry Kane is known for his prolific goalscoring but against Ukraine he executed a sumptuous assist for Kyle Walker. Kane dropped deep to receive the ball, and had plenty of time and space, with nobody pressing him. He picked his head up and spread a beautiful cross-field pass to Kyle Walker who had made a run into the box. The Manchester City man took his chance and finished impressively to level the game. A rare moment of quality from England and another example as to why Kane is so important for England.

Henderson’s 90 minutes

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Questions were asked when Jordan Henderson was called up to the England squad after his move to Saudi Arabia in the summer. With a lack of attacking spark against Ukraine, some England fans were calling for Henderson to be substituted for a more attacking option off the bench.This would leave Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham to control the midfield. Henderson remained on the pitch, as Bellingham was the one who was subbed off for Marcus Rashford.

Henderson played the full 90 minutes which left some fans puzzled. A conservative approach from Southgate as England could only muster a point.

Impressive performance from Kyle Walker

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Alongside his first England goal, Kyle Walker was named player of the match for his fantastic performance. Whilst bombing up and down the wing, he had the task of dealing with Chelsea’s Mykhailo Mudryk who yet again failed to impress. The fullback made the intelligent run for his goal, which he took brilliantly under pressure. In a performance that lacked quality, Walker was the standout with his electric pace and ice cool defending.

Does Southgate know his best XI?

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England only have a handful of games left before they fly to Germany for the European Championships. Gareth Southgate has a wealth of talent at his disposal and seems set on playing a 4-3-3 formation. With so many attacking options, Southgate may have to experiment with different attacking combinations to find the winning formula. Question marks may still be hovering over the back line too, with Marc Guehi and Levi Colwill breaking through into the squad. However, Southgate also has the options of tried and trusted pair Harry Maguire and John Stones.

Euro 2024 is fast approaching and England are tipped as one of the favourites to lift the trophy. Food for thought for Southgate and his backroom staff.

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