Kylian Mbappe has been urged to consider leaving Paris Saint-Germain by Nicolas Anelka if he wants to have the same global impact as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

The 22-year-old has spent the past four seasons in the French capital but is out of contract in 2022 and has been strongly linked with Real Madrid, while Liverpool are also rumoured to be interested.

Former Monaco forward Mbappe raised further questions over his future when revealing last month he is unsure whether the Parc des Princes is the best place for him.

Those comments were made on the back of a disappointing 2020-21 campaign for PSG in which they failed to defend their Ligue 1 title and exited the Champions League in the semi-finals, though they did win the Coupe de France and Trophee des Champions.

On an individual level, Mbappe was as prolific as ever with 42 goals in 47 appearances in all competitions last time out, averaging one every 86 minutes for the French giants.

In Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (48) scored more goals in all competitions than Mbappe in 2020-21.

 

But former France international Anelka, who started his career with PSG before joining Arsenal in 1997, believes it is time for his compatriot to seek a new challenge elsewhere if he is to fulfil his career ambitions.

Writing a letter to Mbappe on The Athletic, Anelka said: "You have done so well since coming through at Monaco and taking it to a new level at Paris Saint-Germain. 

"You play at a team that has evolved into a big club capable of winning the Champions League. It seems you will stay for another year, then there is a big choice to make. 

"It is a bit more complicated for you than it was for me. You have at least two choices – stay in Paris or move to Real Madrid. Both of them can win the Champions League these days. When I was at PSG, that wasn't the case.

"That choice depends on what you want to achieve in football. If you want the biggest accolades, you will have to move from PSG at some point. 

"Whatever you do in Paris will be good, but somebody will always say, 'Well, you did great for PSG but it was only in France. The best leagues are in England and Spain, so you didn't compete with the best players in the best league.

"You will have to decide. If you want to win the Ballon d'Or, which is what you should be looking at to echo Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, you will have to compete with the best. 

"You can't say you compete with the best all the time when you are at PSG. The French league is not easy, don't get me wrong, but I think the toughest league is in England. 

"So, if you want to be one of the best, then do what you do in Paris but with Chelsea or United or Arsenal or Manchester City or Liverpool. Or go to Spain to Madrid or Barcelona. Or maybe Italy. Then we can speak about a more global impact."

 

Mbappe endured an underwhelming Euro 2020 campaign in which he failed to find the net in France's four matches before their shock last-16 exit at the hands of Switzerland, a game in which he missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out.

He failed to score in the tournament despite taking 14 shots. At the point of France's tournament exit, only Cristiano Ronaldo (five goals from 15 shots) and Alvaro Morata (two goals from 15 shots) had taken more goal attempts.

It is the first time France failed to make it to at least the quarter-finals of a major competition since 2010 but Anelka, who won the European Championship with Les Blues in 2000, does not think the blame should lie with the attacking players.

"Football is a magnificent sport that remains unpredictable," he said. "Even if France had the best team on paper with a team capable of winning again, something was missing in the collective. 

"They had difficulties in defence. This France team was able to score goals at any time but was also able to concede at any time so that's what stopped them from going further in this tournament.

"The World Cup in Qatar is next year so there will be matches for France to try to make the tactical and collective repairs to compete, to win again. 

"France won the World Cup three years ago but the page has turned. This European Championship is another page that has to turn. Some new players might be integrated and this is a new chapter. 

"Many teams want to be world champions but there are not many examples of a country winning the World Cup twice in a row. It is easy to say, not easy to do."

Sergio Busquets expects this to be his last European Championship with Spain, but the midfielder has not decided when to end his international career.

Busquets lifted the World Cup in 2010 and played his part in La Roja's Euro 2012 triumph nine years ago.

The Barcelona player has another major trophy in his sights, with Spain taking on Italy in the semi-final of Euro 2020 at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.

Spain captain Busquets has thought about his future with the national team at the age of 32 but says beating the Azzurri is the only thing on his mind for now.

He told AS: "You have to think about when to finish your cycle. What I have in mind is that this will be the last European Championship and then it depends. 

"You have to go step by step, I am no longer 20 years old. I feel very good, I am very comfortable in the group. 

"The coach always says that age does not matter, that as long as you are well he will have those who are better and those who make merit, later it will be seen. 

"At the moment I'm thinking about the semi-final with Italy, which is the important thing, then there's the Nations League in October and we'll see. 

"A year can be very long, I am very excited, but I am also responsible and I want the best for myself and for everyone."

 

Busquets says Spain are lucky to have Luis Enrique in charge of the national team.

"It is very difficult to reach the semi-finals," he added. "Football has evolved a lot and it is difficult to win any game because all the teams are very hard working, they have a very high level of scouting, of staff, individually the players are given a bonus in all aspects, mental, physical, nutritional.

"But I knew that Luis Enrique's work at this stage was very good. It is very difficult to see a top coach in a national team because normally such coaches are with a team during the day. 

"We are lucky and privileged to have Luis Enrique here. He is developing his idea, with his work group, with players that he believes in, with a very great ambition and that is reflected on the field."

Former Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici said the Serie A champions have never been close to re-signing Manchester United star Paul Pogba.

Pogba is entering the final year of his United contract and the France international's future remains uncertain amid links with Juventus, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

The 28-year-old, who left United for Juve in 2012 before returning to Old Trafford in 2016, has long been linked with the Bianconeri but Paratici played down the speculation.

"Paul Pogba back to Juventus? I think it is very difficult," Paratici, who is now managing director of football at Tottenham, told Sky Sport.

"There has never been a moment in which we have been close to taking him back."

Pogba was a standout performer at Euro 2020 before France's shock exit at the hands of Switzerland in the last 16.

He scored one and set up another in Les Bleus' four matches at the tournament, while also creating eight chances for his team-mates.

Pogba completed nine dribbles – a tally bettered by only eight others, some of whom have played a game more – while his 51 passes into the final third is the sixth-most of any player.

In 2020-21, Pogba scored three goals and supplied three assists as United finished second in the Premier League.

Across all competitions, Pogba netted six goals for United – who also reached the Europa League final but lost to Villarreal.

Jose Mourinho has spoken highly of Luke Shaw's performances at Euro 2020 following his standout display in England's win over Ukraine.

The Manchester United left-back was voted as the Three Lions' man of the match in a fan poll after providing two assists in the 4-0 quarter-final victory in Rome.

Shaw appears to have cemented his place as Gareth Southgate's first-choice left-back at these finals, a fitting reward for an impressive season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United.

The former Southampton man has enjoyed arguably the strongest 18 months of his career, a far cry from a difficult spell when Mourinho was in charge at Old Trafford, when the Portuguese would often single out Shaw for criticism.

Mourinho took aim at Shaw again after England's group-stage win over the Czech Republic, claiming his delivery from corners was "dramatically bad". That prompted a response from the player, who accused his old boss of having a "strange" personal agenda, adding: "Clearly, I'm in his head."

However, Mourinho appeared far more impressed with Shaw's display in the Italian capital on Saturday, saying the form of England's defenders means Southgate should resist any temptation to revert to a back three for the semi-final against Denmark.

 

"The question is, do England need to play with a back three like they did against Germany? My view is no," he told talkSPORT.

"The back four is really, really solid. Luke Shaw is playing better and better and better. Kyle Walker is having an amazing tournament.

"The two centre-backs are very solid and the back four with the amazing Euros that both central midfielders are doing is more than enough to control Denmark offensively. Then, you have four players to decide the creativity of the game. It is there that Gareth may have some doubts.

"Walker, [Harry] Maguire, [John] Stones and Shaw is clear. [Kalvin] Phillips and [Declan] Rice is clear. [Raheem] Sterling and [Harry] Kane is clear and there are two places that in my opinion are open and two positions where the options are different.

"[Jadon] Sancho played well, [Phil] Foden started the tournament, the same with [Mason] Mount, while [Jack] Grealish looks like he's not the favourite player of Gareth but, every minute he's on the pitch, he does well. There are lots of options for these two places.

"I believe playing at Wembley, England will be solid as always but you have to try and win the match as soon as they can and I don't believe that they need to play with a back three like they did against Germany."

When Jadon Sancho slalomed past Serhiy Sydorchuk and Andriy Yarmolenko in Rome, those who remember him as a boy in the football cages of south London would have barely batted an eyelid.

Yet it was a joyous piece of skill from the England winger, who will join Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund once Euro 2020 finishes, and reflected his growing confidence at international level.

The Ukraine pair strained to prevent him dancing through midfield, and it eventually took a cynical foul from Yarmolenko to halt the winger's charge.

Sancho, now 21, was raised in the Kennington district south of the Thames, where cage football has been a breeding ground for bright, young English talent, players who have to be nimble-footed and daring with their skills in confined spaces.

It was reminiscent of Zinedine Zidane as Sancho body-swerved this way and that in evading the Ukraine tackles.

"I've never changed," said Sancho on Sunday. "In the cages it was all about nutmegging, badding people up, and taking them on.

"When I've had a one-v-one situation, I've always tried to do the things I used to do in the cages and kind of perfect it when I've been in training.

"There could be like a situation where there's three men around you and you do a mad skill to pull free. It definitely does work, the cage skills, the tight skills and things like that."

 

In England's 4-0 thumping of Ukraine, Sancho attempted seven dribbles, three more than any other England player.

He completed four of those, which was also a team high, bringing a fresh dimension to the team.

Sancho also made three penalty area entries, beaten only in that regard by Mason Mount's four, and had a passing accuracy of 92.9 per cent.

The former Watford and Manchester City youngster could have done little more to press his case for inclusion later in the tournament too, starting with Wednesday's semi-final against Denmark at Wembley.

Speaking on England's Lions' Den YouTube show, Sancho spoke of his satisfaction at reaching the highest levels of the game by representing his country.

"It's something I've been dreaming of as a kid, especially putting on the shirt for my family. It's really a big honour for me," he said.

"I class myself as lucky, and to be representing England in a major tournament is a dream come true really and I'm just thankful for every opportunity I get."

Cesar Azpilicueta says Spain must keep Lorenzo Insigne and Jorginho quiet if they are to overcome Italy in Tuesday's Euro 2020 semi-final.

Italy head into the showdown at Wembley as the most in-form side in Europe after going 32 matches without defeat and winning the last 13 of those.

The Azzurri saw off Turkey, Switzerland and Wales to top Group A, before beating Austria in extra time and Belgium inside 90 minutes, in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively.

Forward Insigne started four of those five games, the exception being the final group match against Wales, while Jorginho has been an ever-present for Roberto Mancini's side.

Jorginho has completed the most passes (364) of any midfielder at Euro 2020 so far and is fourth in the list in terms of passes in the opposition half with 249, behind Koke (269), Toni Kroos (271) and Pedri (305).

He is a player Azpilicueta is familiar with, the pair having helped Chelsea to Champions League glory last season, and the defender knows the importance of shackling his club-mate.

"We have a chat set up with all the Chelsea players, but it will be good to see him on the pitch on Tuesday," Azpilicueta told Sky Sport Italia.

"This is football. Sometimes you play against your team-mates when representing your national side. We will both give it our all to helps our teams reach the final.

"He is of course a great player both for Chelsea and Italy. It is important we limit his involvement. He likes to have the ball and control the game. He is a very intelligent player.

"The better we are at keeping him quiet, the more chance we have of controlling the game."

 

While Jorginho has provided an assured presence in the engine room for a much-fancied Italy side, Insigne has been receiving plenty of plaudits for his performances up top.

The Napoli forward was on target for Italy in their opening match and curled in one of the goals of the tournament in the 2-1 win over Belgium in Friday's quarter-final.

He has been involved in 13 goals in his last 15 games for Italy in all competitions – six goals and seven assists – and netted 19 goals in 35 Serie A appearances last season.

"He is not someone I know personally, but on the pitch he is very dangerous," Azpilicueta added. "He is a great player, very technical and fast.

"He always looks to work a one-on-one and is constantly communicating with his team-mates. We will have to defend as a team and attack as a team. We are aware of the strength of Italy's attackers."

Spain's performances have not been as consistent as Italy's, having drawn their opening two group matches before advancing in second place with a 5-0 win over Slovakia.

La Roja then held off Croatia 5-3 after extra time, becoming the first side in European Championship history to score five or more goals in consecutive games, and penalties were required to overcome Switzerland last time out.

However, Italy have beaten Spain only twice in their last 15 meetings in all competitions and lost 4-0 when the sides met in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev.

Azpilicueta has started Spain's last three games and is focusing on the positives ahead of Tuesday's clash in London.

"We did not start well in terms of results, but on the field we have always managed to dominate and control matches," he said.

Spain greats Xavi and Andres Iniesta are inspirational figures for Italy's Nicolo Barella, although the Azzurri midfielder does not try to replicate their skill sets.

Barcelona legends Xavi and Iniesta formed a key part of the Spain side that won Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 – in which they thrashed Italy in the final – either side of lifting the 2010 World Cup.

While the Barca duo were more renowned for their creativity than goalscoring exploits, albeit Iniesta got the crucial strike in Spain's World Cup triumph in South Africa, Barella has established himself as a real goal threat for both Inter and Italy.

Indeed, the former Cagliari man opened the scoring in Italy's 2-1 quarter-final win over Belgium with a fantastic finish, teed up by some excellent footwork.

And while Barella is inspired by the Spain greats of the past, he finds it hard to compare his own game with theirs. 

"They had great champions who inspired everyone, like Xavi and Iniesta," Barella told a news conference. 

"It's easy to say that we were inspired, but all those who love football are. I have different characteristics, seeing me in them is difficult.

"The Spain side that won the Euros in 2012 had an incredible midfield. There were amazing champions there, here there are great players, but we hope we can reach their level and possibly do even better."

Italy inflicted a 2-0 defeat in the last 16 of Euro 2016 to gain revenge for their 4-0 loss in Kyiv nine years ago, and a final against either England or Denmark is the prize for the victor at Wembley on Tuesday.

"[Sergio] Busquets has been one of the best midfielders in the world for many years," Barella continued.

"Then they have Pedri and Koke. It will be a nice game, we'll try to beat their midfield and beat Spain.

"It will be a tough game, we are similar as we both want to dominate the possession. I hope it will be a nice game, we want to enjoy it in a fantastic stadium."

Italy did suffer a blow in the win over Belgium, with influential left-back Leonardo Spinazzola suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon.

"It was strange not to celebrate because one of my team-mates had suffered a serious injury," Barella said when asked about Spinazzola, who has travelled to Finland for surgery.

"It was the first time I didn't celebrate a win at the end of the game, all we can do is to make Spinazzola proud and celebrate for him."

Only three defenders – Andrew Robertson (nine), David Alaba (10) and Jordi Alba (11) – have created more chances than Spinazzola (eight) so far at Euro 2020, though Barella is confident that Chelsea's Emerson, who is set to replace the stricken Roma full-back, will prove an able deputy.

"Emerson and Spina have different characteristics, they are two great players and nobody is worried," he said.

"[Emerson] won the Champions League and he will help us as he's always done. He's played many games for us and we all trust him."

Bayern Munich have confirmed defender Lucas Hernandez has had successful surgery on a knee injury.

Hernandez tore the medial meniscus of his left knee during France's 2-2 draw with Portugal at Euro 2020 on June 23.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said in a statement on Sunday: "We wish Lucas a full and speedy recovery. Our doctors are very pleased with the course of the operation. He will be available again in a few weeks."

Hernandez has made 62 appearances for Bayern in all competitions since joining from Atletico Madrid two years ago.

The 25-year-old has suffered only one defeat in his 42 Bundesliga games, while he did not lose a single one of the 25 league matches he played in his first season at the Allianz Arena as Bayern won the treble under Hansi Flick.

The German champions, now coached by Julian Nagelsmann, begin their title defence away to Borussia Monchengladbach on August 13.

 

Atalanta defender Robin Gosens is unaware of any interest from Barcelona but suggested he is open to discussing a move now that Germany's Euro 2020 campaign is over.

The left wing-back produced one of the standout performances of the tournament with a goal and an assist in Germany's 4-2 victory over Portugal in the group stage.

He started all four of his nation's matches, including 87 minutes of the 2-0 loss to England that brought an end to their campaign at the last-16 stage.

Only Joakim Maehle, Thomas Meunier and Luke Shaw (all three) have played a direct part in more goals among defenders than Gosens so far at Euro 2020.

The two big chances created by the 26-year-old, meanwhile, is behind only Jordi Alba and Shaw (both four), which includes that assist for Kai Havertz's goal against Portugal.

 

Gosens only made his senior debut for Germany last September but soon nailed down a regular starting spot after starring for Atalanta in the 2020-21 campaign.

With 11 goals and six assists, Gosens topped the Serie A charts for direct goal involvements among defenders, with Achraf Hakimi two back on a combined 15 goals and assists.

That form has led to rumours that the former Vitesse man is a target for Barcelona as a long-term replacement for ageing full-back Jordi Alba.

And while Gosens has yet to discuss his future with his agent, he has not ruled out a move away from Atlanta during the current transfer window.

"We'll have a look now. During the European Championship I told my dad [and agent] that he should just leave me alone with the topic," Gosens told Sport1.

"Now I'm back home again, I'll talk to him and see if something is on the program.

"I'm not lying when I say that I don't know anything about it at the moment. My entire focus was on the Euros. When something happens, let's see."

Asked if it would be special to play alongside Lionel Messi should the Barcelona forward sign a new deal, Gosens said: "That's the way it is. You can definitely record it that way."

Gosens joined Atalanta from Heracles in June 2017 and has another two years to run on his existing contract.

Spain's confidence in their own ability never wavered despite initial criticism of their performances at Euro 2020, according to Mikel Oyarzabal.

Real Sociedad winger Oyarzabal scored the crucial spot-kick as Spain beat Switzerland 3-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Saint Petersburg to progress to the semi-finals.

Luis Enrique's side became the first team in European Championship history to score five or more goals in consecutive games after wins over Croatia and Slovakia. Indeed, Spain had not scored more than four goals in any of their first 42 matches in the competition.

However, their goal rush came after successive draws with Sweden (0-0) and Poland (1-1) in the group stage, and their profligacy returned on Friday when they managed 28 shots across 120 minutes, though only had the one goal to show for it.

Spain amassed 29 attempts across their opening two games, with 10 going on target, and though their quality was called into question, Oyarzabal insisted the squad always kept faith.

"Whether you have been unfair or not it is your point. We had plenty of confidence in this solid squad since the beginning," the 24-year-old said at a news conference ahead of the last-four clash with Italy at Wembley.

"We are together and it is a high-level squad. We were confident of doing great in this Euros and so we've shown it. Obviously, people are free to make their opinion, but we have never had any doubts. We have always had confidence in the current squad and we still have it."

While Spain have fired hot and cold, they have nevertheless scored 12 goals so far at the tournament, with Denmark and Italy (both on 11) their closest rivals in that regard.

 

The Azzurri have been one of the most consistent teams and surely dispelled any doubts over their credentials with a fantastic performance against Belgium on Friday.

First-half goals from Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne ultimately ensured progression, with Romelu Lukaku's penalty unable to inspire a Belgium fightback.

"It is going to be a very tough game. Italy has shown a high level," Oyarzabal said of Tuesday's showdown.

"I think they reach the semi-finals in a good shape, but we do too. I believe if we do the right things and we are efficient, we will have better chances to win. The most important thing is to be ourselves. Keep playing as we have done so far because I think we have played great games and we need to have confidence in ourselves.

"They are a great national team with top players, but I don't think we are lesser. We need to be confident. We can play a great game whoever our rival is. We are full of confidence in our plan and in what we will do."

Marcus Rashford can get the most out of Paul Pogba at Manchester United should he learn to make runs in behind like Kylian Mbappe, according to club legend Wayne Rooney.

Pogba had been one of the standout performers at Euro 2020 prior to France's shock elimination at the hands of Switzerland at the last-16 stage.

The 28-year-old scored one and set up another in Les Bleus' four matches at the tournament, while also creating eight chances for his team-mates.

He completed nine dribbles – a tally bettered by only eight others, some of whom have played a game more – while his 51 passes into the final third is the sixth-most of any player.

Rooney believes a big part of Pogba's impressive performances was down to the movement of striker Mbappe, who ended the competition goalless despite having 14 shots.

And United's all-time leading goalscorer has challenged England forward Rashford to replicate Mbappe's positioning in order to unlock Pogba's best form at club level.

"Give Paul time and space and he has the ability and imagination to really hurt the opposition," Rooney said in his Times column. 

"Mbappe had a poor Euros overall but he did contribute to Paul's success. Teams sat off France because they were worried about Mbappe's pace.

"That helped buy Paul that bit of room to play in, and Mbappe's ability to run in behind allowed Paul to play a type of pass that he is so good at, the brave throughball right down the middle of the pitch.

"At United, if Marcus Rashford can develop his game and be encouraged to start making those Mbappe-style runs in behind, I believe you would see Paul doing more of what he does for his country in a club shirt."

Rashford has featured from the substitutes' bench in four of semi-finalists England's five Euro 2020 games so far, but he has yet to score, assist or even have a shot.

At club level, Rashford scored 21 goals for United in all competitions last season and became the first English player to score eight times for the club in European competition in a single season since Bobby Charlton in 1964-65.

Didier Deschamps will hold talks with French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet next week to discuss France's Euro 2020 disappointment.

Pre-tournament favourites France topped a tough group containing Portugal, Germany and Hungary, only to be eliminated at the last-16 stage on penalties by Switzerland.

It marked the first time since the 2010 World Cup that Les Blues had failed to reach at least the quarter-finals of a major competition.

France's premature exit led to questions about Deschamps' future, with Zinedine Zidane being heavily linked with the job since leaving his position as Real Madrid boss in May.

Deschamps is under contract until after the 2022 World Cup and has been in charge of his country since 2012, lifting the World Cup in 2018 and reaching the Euro 2016 final in that time.

La Great insisted last week that the 52-year-old's position is not under immediate threat, but the FFF president plans to meet with Deschamps in the coming days.

"We will meet next week. I always let 10 days pass first," La Graet told Telefoot. "We'll meet in my office in Guingamp and spend the day together.

"Everyone has to think about what went right and what went wrong. We'll spend the day chatting. He's a friend, someone who has always been faithful. This is his first failure."

 

When asked about his recent comments of Deschamps' job being safe, La Graet said: "I didn't say that. I said we will have a discussion. We will speak about what went wrong."

France beat Germany 1-0 in their opening Euro 2020 game, but they then played out draws with Portugal and Hungary before losing on penalties to Switzerland following a 3-3 draw.

The world champions squandered a commanding 3-1 lead against the Swiss in Bucharest and were knocked out 5-4 in the shoot-out.

Les Blues have now been eliminated in their last three games in which they played extra time in major tournaments, as many as in their first 11.

Reflecting on his nation's shock exit in the first knockout round, La Graet said: "I feel disappointment more than anger. We must remember we had a difficult group.

"We finished top of our pool, and switched off for 10 minutes against Switzerland. Not everyone played at the same level, but we can't throw away everything we've previously done.

"We have quality players and coaches. We will analyse things that didn't work next week. Sometimes it's small details."

France are back in action on September 1 with a World Cup qualifier against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Gareth Southgate hailed the performances of Luke Shaw after the England left-back continued his superb individual campaign at Euro 2020.

Shaw, who came into the tournament on the back of an impressive season with Manchester United, teed up two of England's goals in the 4-0 thrashing of Ukraine in Rome on Saturday, creating three goalscoring chances in total. 

It marked his second and third assists of Euro 2020, after the left-back – who turns 26 on July 12 – also provided the cross from which Raheem Sterling tucked home the opener against Germany in the last 16.

Having missed England's opening game, the former Southampton defender has made each one of Southgate's starting XIs since.

From his four appearances at Euro 2020, Shaw has created eight chances – more than any other England player, with five of those coming from open play. On average, he has created 2.15 opportunities, and 1.07 'big chances', per 90 minutes.

Mason Mount (four) is his nearest rival within England's squad in terms of chance creation, while no Three Lions player has attempted as many passes (including crosses) into the box as Shaw's tally of 21.

Of defenders taking part in Euro 2020, only Jordi Alba (11), David Alaba (10) and Andrew Robertson (nine) have created more opportunities so far.

 

He has also proved his worth defensively as part of a back line which has yet to concede across the opening five games (a European Championship record), winning three of the five tackles he has attempted and making four clearances.

"His [Shaw's] performances have improved every game," Southgate told reporters.

"He wasn't with us for a long time until March, which was his first game in a few years. You usually play those games trying not to make mistakes rather than flourishing.

"He feels comfortable in the environment now and is comfortable in how we want to play. His delivery was great.

"We've talked a lot in the week about set-piece goals and we put more emphasis on it. It looked like we would be dangerous in training yesterday and usually that transfers into the game and that's what happened."

Asked of his role in England's attack, Shaw told ITV Sport: "There’s no secret. Defensively and in attack I'll help the team however I can, I did that with two assists, but there's no time to lose concentration, we've got another massive game.

"Four days, we've got to enjoy the special night and be ready for a massive game against Denmark."

Gareth Southgate is daring to dream of lifting the European Championship trophy at Wembley after England thrashed Ukraine 4-0 to reach their first semi-final in 25 years.

A couple of goals from Harry Kane and one apiece for Harry Maguire and substitute Jordan Henderson earned the Three Lions a routine win at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

It is just the second time England have scored four goals in a knockout match of a major tournament, the other instance being the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany.

That was the last occasion England reached the final of a major competition, while only three times since then have they made it as far as the semi-finals.

After losing on penalties to Germany at Italia '90 and Euro 1996, as well as to Croatia in extra time at the last World Cup, Southgate is hoping for a different outcome this time around.

"It's fabulous for our country - a semi-final at Wembley," Southgate, who missed the decisive penalty in the 1996 shoot-out defeat to Germany, told BBC Sport. 

"I know what will be happening at home. It's lovely to see everyone on a Saturday night, beer in hand. 

"They should enjoy it. It's been a long year for everyone. I'm chuffed the two performances have brought so much happiness to people.

"I suppose it's still sinking in that it's another semi-final. Everyone can really look forward to that – it's brilliant. We want to go two steps further than last time."

 

Denmark stand between England and the final after overcoming the Czech Republic 2-1 in Saturday's other quarter-final in Baku.

Southgate will be just the second manager to take charge of England in the semi-final of both the World Cup and the European Championship, after Alf Ramsey in 1966 and 1968. 

"It is an absolute honour to be in that company," Southgate said. "It's lovely to be able to get the results that are putting our country on the football map again."

Southgate reverted to a back four against Ukraine and brought in Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho, the latter making his first start of the tournament.

The England boss now has some big selection calls to make for the semi-final with Denmark, but he is more concerned about which three players miss out on the squad entirely.

"I'm spending more energy worrying about the three I have to leave out because they're all good players," he said. "None of them deserve to be left out. 

"They're all giving everything in training. None of it is because I don't think they're up to the level but we have to make the decisions. 

"We have to make the right call for the right game with the right system. All of the players have been brilliant. Tonight all the way through the group they've been fantastic."

Ukraine were competing in just their second major tournament quarter-final, but the demands of their extra-time win over Sweden on Tuesday seemingly took their toll.

The Blue and Yellow enjoyed a spell on top at the end of the first half, though they ultimately only managed a couple of attempts on target in what was a one-sided contest. 

Three of England's goals came from headers and Andriy Shevchenko, though pleased with his side's run to the last eight, acknowledged that aspect of his side's game let them down.

"I think small details played a key role in the game," he said at his post-match news conference. "We didn't cope well with the high balls. England have a big advantage in that area.

"But in general we played our football; we didn't turn our back on our principles. We tried to put up a good fight against this opposition, but this mountain turned out to be too big for us to climb. 

"It's probably a bit too early for us to be climbing mountains like that. The guys did everything they could, and I want to thank them for that today."

Jordan Pickford has become the first goalkeeper to keep five clean sheets across the first five games of a European Championships, after England's 4-0 rout of Ukraine.

Harry Kane scored either side of Harry Maguire's brilliant header before Jordan Henderson's first England goal – on his 62nd cap – sealed an emphatic quarter-final triumph in Rome.

England now head back to Wembley for a semi-final clash with Denmark, who defeated the Czech Republic, on Wednesday, with a first appearance in a final since 1966 in the offing.

While England's attack clicked, it is the Three Lions' defensive resilience which has seen them through, with Saturday's win bringing up their seventh clean sheet in a row.

It is the first time England have gone as many games without conceding a goal, with the run totalling 662 miniutes.

Five of those clean sheets have come at the tournament – no side has ever kept five successive shut-outs to start a Euros campaign.

Pickford, who had a difficult 2020-21 season with Everton, especially in the first half of the campaign, has played every minute.

Given his troubles for his club, doubts had been raised over Pickford's suitability for England's number one jersey, with Burnley's Nick Pope, who underwent surgery and missed out on Gareth Southgate's squad, and Manchester United's Dean Henderson raised as alternative options.

 

Yet Southgate kept faith with the former Sunderland goalkeeper, who has made nine saves from a total of 42 shots faced (including blocks) so far at Euro 2020.

Four of his saves have come from attempts inside the area, including a chance for Ukraine's Roman Yaremchuk early on in Saturday's encounter, while the other five have come from long-range efforts.

As it was in the run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, Pickford's distribution has also been a key factor for England. He has recorded 95 successful passes, with three of those ending in the final third, from 147 attempts, while he has found a team-mate with 32 long passes (as defined by Opta).

There was a nervy moment for Pickford in the second half at Stadio Olimpico, when he sliced an attempted clearance, but England's defence spared his blushes.

The 27-year-old may face an altogether tougher test against Denmark, however, with Kasper Hjulmand's team having scored 11 goals so far at Euro 2020. Only Spain, who play Italy in the other semi-final, have managed more (12).

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