After a shaky start to what was considered the most important match so far in England’s Euro 2012 campaign, the Three Lions booked their place in the quarter finals with a 1-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine. A goal from the previously suspended Wayne Rooney sealed a top place finish in Group D.
Wayne Rooney’s goal came in the 48th minute following earlier criticism after the miss of his first-half sitter.
England started the game in a very defensive frame of mind inviting early pressure from Ukraine who threatened to defy England’s expectations. Early attacks from Yarmolenko and Garmash looked to danger Joe Hart’s goal and the two Ukranian full-backs, Gusev and Selin, aimed to attack the wings at every opportunity causing Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole problems in defense. Against the run of play England looked likely to score after a good ball in to the box from Ashley Young perfectly picked out the head of Wayne Rooney who found himself one-on-one with the unconvincing Pyatov, but the Manchester United forward’s finish didn’t quite match the quality of the delivery with the ball consequently drifting wide of the target. A packed central midfield forced Ukraine wide as a solid partnership of Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard seemed to be handling the centre of the park very capably, however the Ukrainians continuously showed their quality to deliver exceptional balls into the box.
After a poor first half performance some good work from Gerrard on the wing created an opening for England. A low driven ball in from the right proved to cause difficulty for the unimpressive Pyatov who managed to spill the ball only to direct it into the path of the goal-poaching Wayne Rooney who finished with a simple header from close range. Ukraine’s best piece of play came with a cross from the left finding the head of Milevskiy who failed to finish from just 6 yards. Ukraine attacks continued to flood the England box and an effort from Devic, which seemed to have crossed the line, looked to have put the co-hosts level only to be denied by the extra official on the goal line following John Terry’s quick reactions who controversially scooped the ball away which inevitably sparked post-match talks. England saw out the remainder of the match to hold on to the all important victory which ignited English celebrations and sent the co-hosts crashing out of the tournament.
England now go on to play Italy in the quarter finals on Sunday 24th June.