A goal in each half from Robbie Fowler and Tony Adams set the seal on England's
A goal in each half from Robbie Fowler and Tony Adams set the seal on England's European Championship preparations. The 22 men who leave these shores on Thursday for Belgium do so in good heart, emboldened by a second-half performance that augurs well for the coming weeks...
England 2-0 Ukraine
31 May 2000
Lining up in a 3-4-1-2 formation, Keegan's men had the better of the chances in the first half, but doubts still persist about the defensive frailties of the formation. Ukraine made in roads all half down the left, suggesting once more than David Beckham is not ideally suited to the system
Steven Gerrard, making his debut for the Seniors a day after his 20th birthday, showed maturity beyond his years whether making headway down the right or sitting in front England's back three.
While all the pre-match talk had centered on England's striking options, it was the pairing of Andrei Shevchenko and Sergei Rebrov which caught the eye early on. Southgate and Campbell were both caught on the wrong side of their men on several occasions and only over-elaboration by the new Spurs signing allowed England off the hook.
It was England who nearly opened the scoring, Beckham's fourth minute free kick from 25 yards out skidding wide of Kernozenko's left-hand post.
Four minutes later, Ukraine were nearly rewarded when Sergei Kandaurov stole in front of Nigel Martyn at the near post to meet Oleg Luzhny's cross. Luckily for Keegan's men, the ball ended up in the side netting.
England struck immediately and were denied the lead only by the outside of the post after Fowler's square ball found Scholes bursting into the box. The Manchester United midfielder surged past his marked and fired past the keeper to see the ball hit the woodwork.
Although England were often guilty of poor distribution with their final passes, they still managed to carve out some decent openings, especially down the left where Campbell and Phillip Neville overlapped well to put pressure on Luzhny.
Robbie Fowler, forced to drop deep for the first 25 minutes, began to come into his own after the half-hour and only a brave dive by the Ukrainian keeper as Fowler ran onto McManaman's floated pass stopped the Liverpool man scoring on his return to the England team.
Fowler showed the rustiness of a season spent on the sidelines on 36 minutes when he sliced Beckham's cross from the by-line with only the keeper to beat.
The Liverpool player made amends seven minutes later, however, when he opened the scoring. Kernozenko made a mess of saving Shearer's header from Beckham's corner and Fowler reacted first to lift the ball high into the high from two yards out. It was his third goal for his country.
If the first half was evenly matched, the second was something of a mismatch as England dominated throughout.
The introduction of Heskey for Fowler galvanised the home side and unsettled a Ukraine defence that had looked relatively untroubled in the first 45 minutes.
Scholes had what looked like a penalty turned down in the 60th minute when he was tripped in the box and then saw Gerrard punished for a fair tackle just outside England's box. Martyn did well to palm the resulting free kick from Shevchenko over the bar.
After Heskey had fought off the attentions of Tymoschuk to flash a shot wide of Kernozenko's far post, England doubled their lead on 67 minutes through an unlikely source.
Under pressure from Heskey, Kernozenko could only punch Beckham's corner to Shearer. His header hit a defender and fell to Adams whose first-time shot through the crowded area bounced into the far corner of the goal.
After that, it was one-way traffic as Beckham, McManaman ande Barmby enjoyed the freedom of Wembley. Heskey should have added third when substitute Nick Barmby, on for Scholes, put the Liverpool forward through. Kernozenko came off his line quickly to smother Heskey's effort.
Moments later, Heskey was inches away from connecting with another superb cross from Beckham but a last-gasp header from Vladyslav Vashuk prevented England from adding to their tally.
From James Scholefield at Wembley
England: N Martyn, S Gerrard ( K Dyer 81), P Neville (G Barry 73), G Southgate, T Adams, S Campbell, D Beckham, P Scholes (N Barmby 73), A Shearer, R Fowler (E Heskey 46) , S McManaman
Ukraine: V Kernozenko (M Levitskiy 84), O Luzny, A Tymooschuk, O Holovko, V Vashuk, Y Dmitrulin, S Popov (A Vorobey 70) , A Husin, S Kandaurov (G Moroz 63), A Shevchenko, S Rebrov
Referee: L Michel (Slovakia)
Attendance: 55, 965