Nervy England Beats Ukraine to go Through to Quarterfinals

June 22, 2012 7:27 pm

England booked their place in the Quarterfinals of the European championships with a nervy 1-0 win over host nation Ukraine. They knew that a point would see them through and that they would top the group if they bettered France’s result against Sweden.

Ukraine knew they needed to win to go through and they started the better side. England looked nervous and constantly gave the ball away. They had a number of chances and were a constant threat to the England back line. Marko Devic, playing in place of Andriy Shevchenko, saw a shot well blocked while Denys Garmash and Yaroslav Ratikskiy tried their luck from long range but failed to hit the target.

Ukraine looked the more likely to score and continued to cause trouble down both wings. The hosts were dominating in possession and England could not keep hold of the ball when they did manage to get it. A rare England attack just before the half hour saw Wayne Rooney head wide from an Ashley Young cross. The striker didn’t seem to be as sharp as he had been for Man Utd and it looked as if he wasn’t match fit.

As the half continued England began to see more of the ball and had a number of set plays but they were unable to test Ukraine keeper Andriy Pyatov. Despite Ukraine’s dominance the score remained 0-0 when the half-time whistle blew. England was the happier side having withstood the Ukrainian onslaught and knowing a goal might deflate the hosts.

Just three minutes into the second half England got that goal. Steven Gerrard received the ball on the right and sent a cross into the Ukraine box. The ball took a deflection and keeper Pyatov missed the ball, which  allowed Rooney to nod the it in from close range. The keeper knew he should have got the ball and Ukraine knew they would now need to score two to go through.

Despite the goal Ukraine were still a threat and Artem Milevskiy headed over with an hour gone. Minutes later Ukraine thought they had an equaliser. Marko Devic was played through and Joe Hart was able to get something on the ball which looped up and appeared to go over the line before John Terry hooked it away. Ukraine were crying for the goal to be given but they were unsuccessful. England fans might remember the 2010 World Cup when Frank Lampard had a similar effort disallowed.

The game opened up after that, and Ashley Cole had a chance to put the game to bed but Pyatov brilliantly saved his goal bound effort. With twenty minutes left Ukraine brought on Andriy Shevchenko, but his presence did not seem to help the team. Yevgen Konoplianka struck a fierce shot towards the England goal but Joe Hart saved well and Joleon Lescott cleared the ball well.

Both teams toiled on looking for another goal but it didn’t come. Wayne Rooney’s goal had seen England through to the quarter finals. They will now play Italy after Sweden beat France 2-0 in the other game. England finished top of group D on 7 points and France finished second on 4 points. England will play Italy on Sunday for a place in the semi-final. They are likely to feel confident about beating the Italians who have not really been their best so far in this tournament.

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