dinsdag 19 juni 2012

Euro 2012 Report Tuesday 19 Juni

England 1-0 Ukraine
Rooney header seals controversial top spot
The Three Lions top Group D following the three points and France's loss, but the co-hosts saw an equaliser denied despite replays showing that the ball had crossed the line

Wayne Rooney returned from suspension to fire England to the top of Group D and into the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 as a 1-0 victory over Ukraine set up a date with Italy on Sunday.

The co-hosts dominated much of the opening half and England were happy to get into the break level despite having the best chance through the Manchester United striker.
However, Roy Hodgson’s side came out with a much more impetus in the second half and Rooney scored the 29th goal of his international career to keep England’s unbeaten record in Poland and Ukraine intact.

England’s goal continued to lead a charmed life throughout the second period though and they were indebted to John Terry for a fantastic goal-line clearance in the 62nd minute following Joe Hart's save from Marko Devic, however replays showed that the ball had crossed the line.

Rooney’s inclusion in the starting line-up was the only change to the side who beat Sweden so James Milner continued on the right hand of midfield despite the impact made by Theo Walcott in England’s 3-2 victory over Sweden.

Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin was dealt a huge blow before kick-off as captain Andriy Shevchenko was not passed fit to start the game with a knee injury. Devic replaced the influential striker in one of four changes to the co-hosts’ side as Artem Milevskiy, Denys Garmash and Yaroslav Rakitskiy replaced Andriy Voronin, Serhiy Nazarenko and Taras Mikhalik. 

Cheered on by a vociferous home support, Ukraine began the game on the front foot but Hart’s goal was never really under threat as the England defence restricted them to shots from outside the area.

Andriy Yarmolenko had the first real sight of goal in the ninth minute from the edge of the penalty area, however the Dynamo Kiev midfielder had the ball taken off his toe as Terry executed a perfectly-timed challenge.

Midway through the half the co-hosts continued to dominate the game and a mistake by Ashley Young, as he attempted to deal with a cross-field pass, nearly gifted them the opening goal. Oleg Gusev was able to steal the ball away from the Manchester United winger, before cutting inside from the right wing and firing over the crossbar.

Rooney missed a golden opportunity to give England the lead in the 28th minute, but he mistimed his jump when trying to connect with Young’s inch-perfect cross, and the ball dropped harmlessly wide.

Moments later, Hart was called into action as Milevskiy found some room 25 yards out. He played a neat pass into the path of Yarmolenko, who had escaped the attentions of Ashley Cole. The winger’s curling shot was on target but it was easy for Hart who was able to drop on the ball and make the save.

The half-time break gave England a chance to regroup and within three minutes of the restart they were ahead.

A Steven Gerrard corner was cleared only as far as Glen Johnson, who returned the ball to his captain to deliver a dangerous cross right across the six-yard box to send the Ukraine defence into a scramble and allow Rooney to head in for a yard out.

England’s goal only served to inspire the Ukrainians and they had two fantastic chances in the space of two minutes on the hour mark. The first came from a quick corner from the left but Milevskiy was unable to keep his header down from Yarmolenko’s cross despite getting in front of Joleon Lescott.

A minute later a piece of heroic defending from Terry kept England ahead as his acrobatic clearance denied Devic, although replays appeared to show the ball had actually crossed the line and the striker was, in fact, offside in the build-up.

Ukraine continued to push for the equaliser and they were denied by the impressive Manchester City duo of Hart and Lescott ten minutes later. Yevhen Konoplyanka unleashed a powerful shot from just outside the area that Hart could only parry away, but before another Ukraine player could get onto the loose ball, the centre-back had tidied up for his goalkeeper and averted the danger.

England finished the game playing on the counterattack but spent the majority of the final ten minutes in their own half as Ukraine threw everything they had at their opponents, even the introduction of Shevchenko couldn’t inspire the co-hosts and their elimination was confirmed.

Sweden 2-0 France
Stunning Ibrahimovic goal condemns Les Bleus to Spain test
Hamren's men finally held onto a lead at the third time of asking to pick up their first points of the tournament, while defeat means Blanc's side finish second in the group

France will play Spain in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals after surrendering their Group D top spot to England by losing 2-0 to Sweden.

Erik Hamren's men, who already had their elimination confirmed after losing both of their first two games, frustrated the French side in the first half and through Ola Toivonen had two excellent chances to take the lead.

Les Bleus looked very flat in the first half, with Franck Ribery forcing Andreas Isaksson into his only save of the period, as they looked nothing like the attacking threat that beat Ukraine 2-0.

After the break it was Sweden who looked the better side and deservedly took the lead when Zlatan Ibrahimovic volleyed home superbly, with Wilhelmsson nearly adding a second soon after. The Swedes then defended well and scored a second through Sebastian Larsson, forcing France to qualify as group runners-up with England beating Ukraine.

Laurent Blanc made two changes from the 2-0 win over co-hosts Ukraine, with Hatem Ben Arfa starting for the first time in the competition in place of Jeremy Menez, who is a booking away from suspension. Yann M'Vila returned from injury to replace another Newcastle man in the French ranks, Yohan Cabaye, who has been struggling with a leg problem this week.

The Swedes also made two replacements from their last game, a 3-2 defeat at the hands of England, with Rasmus Elm (knee) and Johan Elmander (foot) being forced out with Toivonen and Emir Bajrami coming into the side.

The opening stages saw France create a number of chances for themselves as firstly Karim Benzema slipped Ben Arfa beyond the last man but the Magpies man tried an ambitious shot from a tight angle, skewing the ball off-target. 

Toivonen then wasted a golden opportunity to deal a blow to Blanc's men, the forward challenging Philippe Mexes in the air, and got the better of the centre-back getting himself one-on-one with the French keeper. However he lost control of the ball with a poor touch, and allowed Hugo Lloris to force him wide with the eventual shot into the side netting.

France began to stamp their dominance on possession as the first-half progressed, but with 25 minutes passed they were yet to carve out any more clear chances. Adil Rami tried his luck with a long-range free-kick, but fired over, and then Jonas Olsson made a terrific block to deny Benzema a shot on goal.

Minutes before the break Ribery thought he had finally dribbled free of the Swedish defence, only for Olof Mellberg to get back and slide in with a fantastic tackle, sending the ball out of play for a corner. Toivonen nearly managed to get in behind the French back-four twice more before the whistle, but strayed carelessly offside on both occasions.

The second-half nearly started disastrously for France, as substitute Wilhelmsson would have been in on goal had the linesman not ruled him offside. The 32-year-old, who injected some energy into Sweden's line-up, then nearly knicked the ball from the hesitant Rami's toe but was just about muscled off it by the defender.

Five minutes in and Benzema timed his tun perfectly to beat the Swede's offside trap before cutting in and attempting a curler into the far corner, however the forward didn't get the connection he was looking for and missed the target.

Wilhelmsson continued to make a big impact on the game by controlling a long ball with a magnificent touch before beating Debuchy, he then delivers to the back post where Larsson tested Lloris with a good volley. 

The French keeper saved well but was helpless to deny Ibrahimovic from scoring the opening goal. The Sunderland winger who went close moments earlier crossed from the right and the AC Milan star acrobatically volleyed into the back of the net.

Sweden immediately searched for a second as Ibrahimovic nearly turned provider by holding up the ball before teeing up Wilhelmsson, but Lloris to parried his effort behind.

With Blanc surely aware of the news that England had also taken the lead against Ukraine, and Hamren's side looking dangerous, he needed his side to respond and decided to bring Florent Malouda on for the wasteful Ben Arfa. Soon after Nasri narrowly missed the target from the edge of the box but it was more woe for the manager as Mexes picked up a yellow which sees him miss their next game.

With 20 minutes left to find the two goals that would send them top, at that stage, Benzema was denied a shot on goal thanks to brilliant tracking from Jonas Olsson before M'Vila tired his luck from outside the box, stinging the palms of Isaksson and winning a corner in the process - which France wasted.

Sweden's defence continued to hold firm at time ran-out for Les Bleus, with Mellberg denying Mexes with a brave last-ditch tackle with 10 minutes remaining. Then, Jeremy Menez was thrown into the fray, and he would have made an instant contribution if it wasn't for Isaksson's foot. Another substitute, Oliver Giroud, also almost scored with his first touch from the resulting corner, but headed over the bar.

The French loss was confirmed when Sweden added a late second in injury time through Larsson who smashed a volley into an empty net after Wilhelmsson's initial effort hit the crossbar, giving the Swedes their first victory against France since 1969 and handing Blanc an unenviable quarter-final with Spain.


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