June 26, 2012

Rooney strike sees England top Group D

By Engerlund

It was simple for England at the start of the game; Win or draw against Ukrainian, shorn of potent striker Andriy Shevchenko at the start and they were through. England recalled their own talisman in the shape of Wayne Rooney for Andy Carroll but Hodgson’s men were firmly on the back foot for much of the first 45 minutes.

The host nation gave everything, knowing they had to win and at one point had seven attempts on goal before England had registered a shot of their own. At every opportunity, the ball was being sprayed out on to the flanks and as the crosses rained in on Joe Hart’s goal, Andriy Yarmolenko had the best opportunities to open the scoring but the Three Lions keeper was equal to his efforts.

England had the chance of the half however on 28 minutes as an Ashley Young cross found Rooney unmarked but the striker glanced a tame header wide of the post when it looked easier to score. Boasting a new hipster haircut during Euro 2012, the Manchester United man might have wished he’d gone for a shaved head.

The co-hosts seemed likely to introduce Shevchenko in the second half and would have been hopeful of a win, but within four minutes of the restart, England were ahead. Steven Gerrard showed impressive footwork to make space and whipped in a cross, Piatov in the Ukraine goal missed the ball completely to allow Rooney to nod in from close range.

The real drama was still to come however and Blokhin’s side could have drawn level when a cross from the left found Milevskiy unmarked, but the Dinamo man somehow nodded over.
Within a minute came the controversial moment as Milevskiy put Devic through and as the ball looped off Joe Hart’s body, John Terry did well to clear it but replays later indicated that the ball had crossed the line.

Shevchenko came on after 70 minutes but you sensed Ukraine’s chance had gone. England were looking dangerous on the counter and now looked the more likely to add to the scoring. In a final dramatic period, Ukraine had a penalty claim denied and while England had to absorb more pressure in the game, they were good for their win on the night and topped the group.