Euro 2012: England top Group D
- 19 June 2012 21:53
- Posted by Nicola McCarthy
England and France progress to the quarter finals of Euro 2012.
England 1-0 Ukraine
It wasn’t the best performance from Roy Hodgson’s men, but it was enough to earn them top spot in Group D and a quarter final against Mario Balotelli’s Italy.
Wayne Rooney grabbed the only goal of the night on 48 minutes when he made up for an earlier miss and got on the end of a badly handled Steven Gerrard cross, heading in from a yard out.
Ukraine were arguably the better team on the night and certainly dominated possession, especially in the first half, with Andriy Yarmolenko testing Joe Hart with a low shot on the half hour mark.
Controversy followed in the second half when Ukraine striker Marko Devic was denied an equaliser with a shot that looked to have crossed the line before being cleared by John Terry. This provoked an angry reaction from coach Oleg Blokhin, who will undoubtedly feel hard done by.
Knowing that only a win would see them through, the co-hosts continued to press. Joe Hart was again tested by a swerving shot from Yevhen Konoplyanka, but City team mate Joleon Lescott confidently cleared.
The Ukraine fans’ call for their golden boy Andriy Shevchenko was finally answered with 20 minutes to go, but not even he could find a breakthrough.
England topped the group and approach the next stage with optimism, having entered the tournament with caution. They avoid Spain and will face Italy in the quarter finals on Sunday.
Once again, three of City’s boys were in action for England, Roy Hodgson keeping faith with James Milner after speculation that Theo Walcott may replace him in midfield.
Milner put in another solid performance, his discipline affording Glen Johnson the opportunity to run forward with a lot of freedom.
Joleon Lescott had little to do, but held strong at the back and made some key tackles and clearances.
Despite the Ukrainians dominating possession, Joe Hart wasn’t tested too much and on the rare occasion that he was, he never really looked in danger of conceding.
France 0 – 2 Sweden
Despite a great display from Sweden, including a superb Zlatan Ibrahimovic strike and a late Sebastian Larsson goal, the French still manage to qualify for the next round.
Laurent Blanc’s men struggled to get going, with the Swedes going close early on when Ola Toivonen’s shot struck the outside of the post.
Ibrahimovic punished France with a brilliantly struck volley from a Sebastian Larsson cross, the provider snatching Sweden’s second with a close range shot.
The French will play holders Spain in the quarter finals in Donetsk on Saturday.