England played a defensive game against the Ukraine tonight, and were a little lucky to win, with a Wayne Rooney goal after 48 minutes, but in truth it was a poor performance from the England side.
Wayne Rooney after heading in England’s winner
And with France surprisingly losing to Sweden 2-0, with good goals from Ibrahimovic and Larsson, England rather easily won Group D with 7 points, and will now play Italy in the quarter finals.
But England did an excellent job of lowering expectations with their performance tonight, and if they are to advance against Italy, England will need to attack and try to win the ball, now and again.
The England results have been just fine, but the performances haven’t been all that good and tonight it as a sub-standard performance from the English side.
England started this game as they started the second half against Sweden, and ceded possession to Ukraine from the first whistle, and that’s always a very dangerous game to play, because as the opposition gets more and more possession, their confidence rises and of course the home crowd gets pumped up.
That’s what happened in the first half, as Ukraine attacked England and had a number of decent chances, that a fit Andriy Shevchenko would have dispatched, but the Ukrainian captain didn’t come on until mid-way through the second half, and didn’t look too fit either.
Even though England were on the defensive for much of the first half, it looked like England had decided to play a defensive game from the off, and the first half has to be the worst half England have played at Euro 2012.
But even though England defended for much of the first 45 minutes, Wayne Rooney had the best chance, when he should have scored with a header after 28 minutes, after a great cross from captain Steven Gerrard.
It was as if England couldn’t play any worse than they did in that first half and true enough, after only 3 minutes of the second half, the Ukraine goalkeeper let a Steven Gerrard cross through his hands, and Rooney was there to head the ball home to give England the lead.
That was the first goal Rooney had scored in a major tournament since 2004, when he was 18 years old – so it was good for Wayne to break that streak and it should give him confidence.
And just after Rooney scored we heard that a terrific goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic had put Sweden 1-0 up against France, and so things were looking pretty good for England.
Ukraine came at England continuously in the second half, and only a fantastic goal line clearance from John Terry saved England after 62 minutes, when he hooked the ball off the line.
Buit TV replays showed the ball was actually over the line, and another embarrassment for football in a major tournament – when are they going to use some goal line technology?
Indeed if fortune favors the brave then Ukraine should have won this game, because at least they went for the win, which of course they needed – to advance.
That “goal” that Terry saved would have made it 1-1, and surely Ukraine would have come after England.
England brought on Theo Walcott to replace James Milner, and Andy Carroll replaced Welbeck late in the game, and England had a number of quick breakaways, and should have taken some of the chances they created.
But it was another defensive display by England, against a much weaker side than France – and hopefully against Italy, England may will attack the opposition.
England can play a lot better than they showed tonight – we certainly hope so – and at least goalkeeper Joe Hart was good for England, and the back four didn’t make any silly mistakes, and it’s hard to do better than win your group and take 7 points from the three games.
Now if only England can start playing well. 😀