England upset Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine 1-0 and qualify for the playoffs from the first spot in Group D, thanks to the Swedish 2-0 win over France.
England 1-0 Ukraine
Ukraine needed nothing but victory in their clash with England at the packed Donbass Arena in Donetsk.
But their attacking abilities were limited by the absence of their injured star Andriy Shevchenko, while their opponents’ morale was boosted by Wayne Rooney’s comeback after a two-game ban.
The Ukrainians were the more active side in the opening 45 minutes, but efforts from Oleg Gusev and Anatoly Tymoshchuk lacked accuracy.
Rooney had a good chance to open his scoring account at the tournament, but his close-range header was off the mark.
But on the 48th minute, the returning English striker just couldn’t miss, putting the ball into an empty net from point blank.
Steven Gerrard’s low cross took two deflections before slipping under the hand of keeper Andriy Pyatov, into Rooney’s path, 1-0.
A couple minutes later, the actions of referee Viktor Kassai once again raised the question of the necessity of video replays in football.
The Hungarian arbiter didn’t see, or decided not to see, the ball crossing the English goal line after a shot from Ukrainian forward Marco Devic.
The stadium demanded Shevchenko on the pitch and coach Oleg Blokhin heard the fans.
Despite not being fully fit, the 35-year-old attacker entered the game with 20 minutes left to play.
Sheva and Co. put England under some serious pressure, but the 1-0 score remained unchanged.
Sweden 2-0 France
The Swedes, who already lost their chances to make the playoffs, promised to bang on the door at Euro 2012.
France had more of the ball, but the counter-attacking tactics paid off for the Scandinavians on the night.
The first half ended in a scoreless draw, but Sweden found the way to the goals of opposing keeper Hugo Lloris in the second 45 minutes.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic connected with the ball in mid-air to open the scoring, with one of the most beautiful strikes in the tournament, 1-0.
France were looking for an equalizer till the end, but conceded again, with Sebastian Larsson adding his name to the scoreboard in stoppage time.
The French loss allowed England to claim the first spot in Group D, with 7 points in the bag. This means they play Italy in the quarterfinals.
France finished second, with four points, and the tough challenge in the face of defending champions Spain awaiting them next.
Co-hosts Ukraine and Sweden leave the tournament, claiming 3 points each.
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