The line between success and failure often comes down to being in the right place at the right time.
Harry Kane, as a striker, exemplifies this.
Had the England skipper been a second too late with his run in the fourth minute against Ukraine at the Stadio Olimpico, he wouldn’t have got on the end of the ball that Raheem Sterling slid in so expertly.
Likewise, had he not delayed his move in the box, he would not have got on the end of Luke Shaw’s pin-point cross to nod home his second, and England’s third in their comprehensive 4-0 victory over Ukraine.
Kane, under tremendous pressure after his lacklustre performances in the group stage — where at times he barely touched the ball — is now in the right place, at the right time, to make his mark on England’s push for Euro 2020 glory.
“I’ve said all along, it’s about peaking for the right times, peaking for the knockout stage,” Kane said in his post-match interview as he was presented UEFA’s star of the game for best performance of the match.
That England are winning games now is, in part, due to their talismanic striker finding his feet.
Kane is such a vital cog in England’s attacking system.
Whereas in almost every other position on the field, Gareth Southgate has a like-for-like, ready-made replacement waiting on the bench, there is no such option for Tottenham’s three-time Premier League golden boot winner.
Just look at the players behind him.
Whether England has lined up as a 4-3-3, the 4-2-3-1 that Southgate bravely changed to for this match against Ukraine despite the success of the 3-4-3 against Germany, Kane has always been the focal point of the attack.
And, when England’s most reliable goalscorer fails to fire, as he did in the group stages, it can create the pressure that manifested itself in the fraught hang-wringing that followed England’s mediocre group stage.
Kane scored no goals and managed just five shots in just 246 minutes of play during those group stages, looking leggy and badly out of kilter.
Now he has three goals from three attempts in the knockout stages, driving England past perennial obstacle Germany and now Ukraine.
It’s proof that when the 27-year-old scores, the shackles really come off and the Three Lions can finally roar, almost swaggering past Ukraine in Rome.
“It’s always nice to score early in a game,” Kane told the BBC post-match.
“There was a lot of talk about me and my performances. But I’m just ready for the next game and try to lead this team to the European final.”
Kane now has nine in major tournaments for England.
That’s the same number as Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker, two of England’s greatest ever strikers.
He’s now also in the conversation for the tournament golden boot, which would look great alongside the one he won at the World Cup in Russia, three years ago.
“We’ve got a big semi-final coming up,” Kane told the BBC.
“We set out a vision before the World Cup of what we want to achieve [and] we are knocking it off step by step.
“The World Cup was great but we fell short, we had a good run in the Nations League, [now] we’re in another semi-final.
“Now it’s about getting over the line, the next step that we have got to do on Wednesday.”