England qualified for the Quarter Finals of Euro 2012 as they scraped a 1-0 win against tournament co-hosts Ukraine despite a scrappy performance. Wayne Rooney marked his comeback from suspension with the only goal of the game as England march on to face Italy in the Quarter Finals on Sunday.
Ukraine started brightly as they dominated possession but failed to test Joe Hart with a number of long range efforts which were closer to hitting row Z than the back of the net.
The Three Lions weathered the early storm and then had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring as Ashley Young crossed from the left and found Wayne Rooney unmarked at the back post, but the Manchester United striker failed to find the target with a tame header.
Blokhin’s men responded as Yarmolenko tricked his was past Cole on the right hand side before cutting back on to his favoured left foot and tested Hart, but the City keeper held on to the ball comfortably.
After the interval England took the lead. Gerrard’s corner was only half cleared and returned to the captain, whose cross took two small deflections resulting in the ball squirming through the hands of goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov and in to the path of Wayne Rooney, who was on hand to head home from just a yard out making up for his earlier miss.
For once England had Lady Luck on their side as Ukraine went in search of an equaliser. Artem Milevskiy broke with pace as England were exposed at the back and found Marko Devic unmarked in front of goal. The strikers shot was half saved by the advancing Hart, but the ball looped towards goal with a crowd of 50,000 expecting the net to rustle John Terry dug deep to miraculously clear the ball off the line. The Ukrainians were fuming as they demanded a goal but all protests were waved away by referee Kassai, however replays showed the ball crossed the line before Terry’s intervention and the goal should have stood.
But as the Ukrainian’s protested, England wasted no time in counter attacking and Scott Parker won a free-kick on the edge of box. Wayne Rooney stepped up to take the free-kick, but could only find the side netting.
Ukraine carried on battling as Artem Milevskiy headed over from six yards out when really he should have tested Hart. Moments later Hart had to be at his best to deny Konoplyanka from distance as England held on.
Ashley Cole came close to doubling England’s lead but his effort was well saved by the inconsistent Pyatov. Despite Blokhin introducing Shevchenko to the game late on, Ukraine’s dreams of success in their tournament came to an end as England finished top of the group with France settling for second despite losing 2-0 to Sweden.