Wayne Rooney scored on his return as England had to see out a Ukrainian side which had their moments and could easily have upset Roy Hodgson’s side in their quest to enter the last eight of Euro 2012. France also advanced despite losing after Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a stunning goal and Sebastien Larsson scored late in the game to give Sweden a shock 2-0 win.
England may have won, but a performance like this may not take them very far in the tournament. Rooney was pretty wasteful in front of goal, having three easy chances to head his country ahead, out of which he scored only one. Ukraine, spurred on by a strong home support, caused the Three Lions plenty of problems with their quick possession play.
Steven Gerrard’s trickery on the right flank was followed by another crossed assist. His whipped lob somehow made its way past the goalkeeper and a swarm of defenders before Rooney headed into the empty net.
The host nation will also be aggrieved after the ball had crossed the line as Marko Devic’s shot was deflected by Joe Hart towards the goal. It looked like John Terry had hacked the ball off the line, but replays suggested that the full ball had crossed the line and the goal should have stood. It is another story that Devic was offside when he was played through but the calls for goal-line technology will get stronger after yet another incident.
Artem Milevskiy also had a chance to score from a point-blank header but his attempt went inches above the bar. But even that was an offside not given.
Hodgson will want his team to see more of the ball in the knockout stages after seeing his side’s possession at just 43%.
In the other match, Ibrahimovic’s volley gave Sweden a well deserved lead. The French never really got going and Oliver Giroud missed a great chance to equalise before Larsson sealed the win.
France will be surprised with their lack of ability to find the net having taken 21 shots with 10 of them on target. But the worrying fact is also that they let Sweden have a shy at Hugo Lloris 13 times. Usually a country which likes to dominate proceedings, France and Sweden saw as much of the ball, with neither side really standing out in terms of keeping the ball.
The Swedes can exit the tournament with their heads held high. France will play Spain in the quarter-finals as England take on Italy after going unbeaten through their group stages.