Harry Kane is back and so are set piece goals and they have lifted England a couple of notches

Now the European Championship is getting serious, England have switched to 11-a-side. They have even started scoring from set-pieces.

The hallmark of England's Euro 2020 - the clean sheet - was on display again in Rome, but the Three Lions upped their game a couple of notches to run out 4-0 winners over Ukraine.

Gareth Southgate's England do things none of his predecessors' teams could. He has won more knockout matches than any other occupant of the impossible job, and emulated Sir Alf Ramsey in reaching back-to-back semi-finals at major tournaments.

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Winning a quarter-final comfortably was another.

TWO GOALS: A revitalised Harry Kane celebrates
TWO GOALS: A revitalised Harry Kane celebrates

At one point the England supporters in the 11,880-strong crowd were chanting "We want five!" Not five subs, not five shots, five goals.

England were playing ole football in a game where their supporters should have been biting their nails down to the knuckles. Have the youth of today no respect for English footballing history?

At kick-off in Rome, none of the remaining teams had a centre-forward you would put your house on. If Italy or Spain had one, this tournament might be a foregone conclusion, but they are doing their bit to keep it interesting. So are England.

The Three Lions came into the tournament thinking they had a dead-eyed No 9 but as the group stage progressed, you started to wonder if the man in the captain's armband was a lookalike even morning television would not fall for.

It was not that Harry Kane was not working his damndest, it just was not happening for him.

Southgate, though, knows quality is worth waiting for. Every time he has shown faith this summer, he has been handsomely rewarded.

On a sensational Saturday night the only thing you could criticise Kane for was not scoring a hat-trick, and Heorhiy Bushchan was more to blame for that.

All England fans were hoping Kane's stooping header against Germany on Tuesday would kick-start him. This is a summer where our dreams are starting to come true.

Kane needed 214 seconds to set England on their way. He has taken the scoring baton from Raheem Sterling, who set him free with an exquisite pass. Kane finished with the confidence of a man transformed.

Many thought Sterling should not have started the tournament after, by his standards, a disappointing club season, but Southgate was never one of them. If you do the business for him, he stands by you.

By the time Kane added his second, five minutes into the second half, the job was done. England were heading to a Wembley semi-final against Denmark on Wednesday.

A Mason Mount pass to set him free for the hat-trick was just cut out. Bushchan turned his volley around the post.

Ten minutes later Kane made way for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the Sheffielder put out at not even being named on the bench against Germany. Kane was the fifth England player to be rested in a game with 17 minutes to go.

In 2018 Kane won the World Cup golden boot by front-loading his goals in the group stage. This time he is doing it the other way around, drawing level with Alan Shearer as England's second-highest scorer in tournament football. Gary Lineker is only a goal ahead. For now.

The team that did not really do goals at either end have become potent again.

Adding to that was the fact that either side of Kane's two goals, England got back to scoring from set pieces too. They leant heavily on them in Russia but despite John Stones hitting the woodwork against Scotland and Harry Maguire having three good efforts against Germany, it had eluded them. Not now. Maguire and Jordan Henderson, the man who never scores for England, scored them.

With thunder and lightning flashing around Yorkshire, it ought to have been so much more ominous for everyone watching back home.

After Kane's early opener, England were slow to show a killer touch.

With 27-degree heat at kick-off, they seemed reluctant to over-exert themselves ramming home the advantage Kane gave them, and the odd moment of sloppiness - a Stones switch of play too far behind Sterling, a Kyle Walker pass which put the Barnsley man in trouble - kept things more like what an England knockout game should be - tense.

An injury-enforced change of formation from 5-3-2 to 4-3-3 meant Ukraine finished the half strongly.

But England came out for the second half inspired and got the job done.

So dangerous at set pieces on Tuesday without actually finding the net, Maguire's broad forehead thumped a brilliant Luke Shaw free-kick in before the second half was a minute old.

There were some of us - I admit, I was one - who would not even have taken Maguire to the tournament, spooked by the ankle ligament injury he suffered in May but Southgate knew he was worth the wait and Maguire was not just brought super-cool defending but assured passing and a set-piece threat to a side which already looked pretty good in those respects with Tyrone Mings in it.

Sterling played in Shaw, and Kane headed the cross through Buschcan. From the corner his volley won, the recently-introduced Henderson made it four.

Declan Rice and Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips were taken off to spare them from bookings which would have kept them out of the semi-finals. Maguire was not, but there was no need.

Shaw's growing importance to the team was shown by the fact he was given a breather too, along with Kane.

It was not the same Kane leaving the pitch as the one who walked onto it. His stature had grown in the course of an unforgettable evening. So had England's.

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