Rooney back with a bang as England make Euro 2012 quarters
England are into the last eight at Euro 2012 and go through as Group D winners ahead of France.
Wayne Rooney marked his return from suspension by scoring the goal which took England into the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 with a 1-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk, as Roy Hodgson’s charges topped Group D with France taking second place despite losing 2-0 to Sweden in Kiev on Tuesday night.
The Manchester United striker converted a deflected cross from England skipper Steven Gerrard three minutes into the second half as Roy Hodgson’s side set up a last-eight meeting with Italy in Kiev on Sunday night.
Germany are now installed as 21/10 favourites to win a fourth European Championship, with defending world and European champions Spain next best at 9/4 followed by Portugal at 15/2, while France are 7/1 and England along with Italy are priced at 10/1 for glory in Kiev on July 1.
However, there was controversy when Ukraine striker Marko Devic appeared to be denied an equaliser with a shot that looked to have crossed the line before John Terry cleared – much to the outrage of the home support in Donetsk.
They would have been happier had the goal-line technology due to be voted on by FIFA next month already been installed, as Terry hacked Devic’s half-blocked shot away, after it seemed to have crossed the line, but despite Ukraine protests the goal wasn’t given.
In truth, having already failed to take a glaring first-half chance, Rooney could not miss his second with a close header just after half time as Ukraine keeper Andriy Pyatov failed to gather a dangerous low cross from Gerrard which took two deflections for Rooney to score his 29th England goal.
The journey to victory for Hodgson and his squad, who were rallied by their captain Gerrard in midfield, had its uncomfortable moments, not least the controversy that once again erupted over a ball that crossed the line which none of the officials saw.
Devic was at the centre of the home side’s attacks and had a goal-bound shot blocked by Scott Parker and also triggered the move that ended with Andriy Yarmolenko stepping inside the box and forcing a low save out of Joe Hart.
England’s 1-1 draw with France and 2-1 victory over Sweden, along with the one-goal win over Ukraine, sees them top the group with seven points and face the Azzuri who finished second in Group C behind Spain.
Meanwhile, France drifted into the quarter-finals in second place on four points despite losing to second-half goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sebastian Larsson which provided a rousing send off for already-eliminated Sweden in Kiev, and Laurent Blanc’s side must now face Group C winners Spain in the last eight.
England are 13/8 to get the result over Italy (17/10) with the draw on Sunday priced at 2/1 for a place in the last four. A scoreless draw after 90 minutes is on offer at 13/2 while a 1-0 win for Italy is 6/1 and 11/2 for England in what will be a close encounter.
The winners will face either Germany or Greece, with the Germans 4/11 in the match betting while the Greeks are 9/1 shots.