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Honest England move into bonus territory

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Phil McNulty | 07:42 UK time, Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Euro 2012: Donetsk

When Wayne Rooney next uses the visualisation techniques that have become an integral part of his pre-match routine, he may allow himself to imagine something nobody saw coming.

England striker Rooney admits he lies awake the night before big games training his mind's eye on the decisive moments that might win a match, even armed with information about the strip the opposition will wear.

And events inside the vast, thunderous Donbass Arena in Donetsk would have fulfilled his dreams perfectly as a simple nod of his head inches away from an open goal after 48 minutes gave England the 1-0 win that put them into Euro 2012's quarter-final.

England manager Roy Hodgson set the stage for Rooney's return from a two-match suspension by invoking the name of the great Brazilian Pele as an example of how special talents can define tournaments.

After missing a first-half header that would have been filed away in the nightmare section of his motivational build-up, Rooney got the goal that means England and Hodgson have reached what most agreed would be a par performance for a manager who only took the job early last month.

Wayne Rooney move in to score against Ukraine

Wayne Rooney's goal came after a period of intense Ukraine pressure. Photo: AFP

The added bonus was that Sweden's victory against France allows England to navigate their way around world and European champions Spain and will instead meet Italy in Kiev on Sunday.

So when Rooney turns out the lights and fixes his thoughts on the famous Italian Azzurri, could he seriously allow his mind to wander to see England driving further into Euro 2012 and towards a potential semi-final meeting with Germany - or even the final?

Suddenly England have possibilities, not on the back of sparkling displays but because of a group of honest players proving they want to play for their new manager and getting the results to back it up.

It would be delusion on the grandest scale to suggest England illuminated the Donbass Arena, daubed in the yellow and blue of the expectant co-host nation. Indeed, for most parts this was a poor performance where they came in second behind a Ukraine side fuelled by the hopes of a nation but unable to turn territorial domination into tangible reward.

And yet England found a way to win through the turmoil of a torrid first half as Rooney applied his lavish new thatch to Steven Gerrard's cross after two deflections and some trademark mishandling from Ukraine keeper Andriy Pyatov.

Finding that way to win is a crucial element of tournament football, as is good fortune. England enjoyed it here when John Terry's athletic scrambled clearance appeared to blind the Hungarian officials to the truth that Marko Devic's shot was clearly over the line.

Had it been given, England would have faced a highly uncomfortable 28 minutes to survive what would have been a siege. Instead, not even the introduction of injured national icon Andriy Shevchenko could spare Ukraine their fate.

Yes, England were lucky, but they were unlucky when Frank Lampard 'scored' against Germany in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, so they will take the payback.

So it was England's players being greeted warmly by manager Hodgson at the final whistle while frustrated Ukraine counterpart Oleg Blokhin - only ever a second away from an explosion - was reduced to offering a local journalist outside after taking exception to his line of questioning.

It still takes a stretch to see England as Euro 2012 winners but safe passage from the group stage means Hodgson can consider his personal campaign a success and will return home with his credentials solidified irrespective of the result against Italy.

England and Hodgson will not want to stop here, though. The difference in spirit from the miseries of South Africa is remarkable and this was what saw them through a display which was, for long periods, unconvincing.

Hodgson has got some big calls right in his short tenure and one of those has been the appointment of Liverpool's Gerrard as captain. Fabio Capello regarded Gerrard as too timid for the role, a situation not helped when the armband was removed despite outstanding contributions in qualifying wins against Bulgaria and Switzerland.

Gerrard knows the current manager, unlike Capello, has confidence in him as captain. He is not holding on to it for someone else or seeing colleagues such as Scott Parker, admirable character though he is, mystifyingly being preferred - as he was by caretaker manager Stuart Pearce.

And he has responded to Hodgson's faith magnificently here. He was the creator for the third time in Euro 2012 but was so much more than that. Gerrard helped stop England's ship from listing as Ukraine dominated, once again answering questions about supposed tactical indiscipline with a measured performance that set the perfect example.

Capello's doubts about Gerrard's character and suitability for captaincy are being shredded game by game in Poland and Ukraine as he does his manager's bidding on the field and while forming an obviously close and inclusive relationship with him off it.

Hodgson will also have been delighted by the work of central defenders John Terry and Joleon Lescott in a position that was a bone of contention when Rio Ferdinand was not included in the squad.

Terry's head and body were on the end of most things when an embattled England needed them, while Lescott is now showing for England the form he has displayed for Everton and Manchester City over many years.

The selection of Chelsea captain Terry threatened to overshadow the early stages of England's Euro 2012 campaign but his performance amid the hostility of the Donbass brooked no argument. Devic's shot may have crossed the line yet it was Terry's determination, laced with desperation, to clear the ball with great athleticism that planted the seed of doubt in the minds of the officials. He could have given it up but that is not his style.

So England move on to Kiev on Sunday with Spain nicely dodged and Italy awaiting. Of course Hodgson will want the ultimate prize but he is moving into bonus territory now and Euro 2012 - and four wins out of five since he took charge - will be regarded as highly satisfactory by the four-man Football Association group that appointed him.


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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Er, first?

    Anyway, only saw highlights last night and they gave the impression that England got away with it a bit. Hey, ho. Swings and roundabouts and all that.

    But, a win and they move on in the competition. Let's enjoy it while it lasts.

    I've always said that Hodgson's real work, that by which he can be judged, starts after the tournament. So yes, bonus territory indeed.

  • Comment number 3.

    and for ' drastic ' you and your brass band should be taken home free of charge stupid racket

  • Comment number 4.

    Titus, I digress- surely Italy constitute less of the 'boring'?

  • Comment number 5.

    Justice has not been served yet again, and yet again Engerlund progress courtesy of Fortune highway. Watching saddened Legend Maestro Shevchenko going out this way was no small pain, and that's just me.

    I though goal-line tech was going to be installed in some form here? UEFA? Can you hear me, ja??

  • Comment number 6.

    Last night was the first game where England looked a little bit open to being punished but the Ukraine team, were never going to be able to do it. Uktaine could of played till sunday and still not briken England down.

  • Comment number 7.

    Was it lucky that the officials didn't spot that the ball was over the line or unlucky that the officials didn't spot that it was offside?

  • Comment number 8.

    #5 Avonns

    Justice has not been served yet again, and yet again Engerlund progress courtesy of Fortune highway.
    'Yet again'? Can you expand.

    From what I saw, Terry made an honest attempt to clear the ball. From what I recall of South Africa, Neuer acted like he knew it had crossed the line, hence him being so keen to get the ball down the other end.

  • Comment number 9.

    The build up to Ukraines ghost goal showed it was offside and if Terry didn't get to the ball then the goal would have stood and Englands bad luck at tournaments would have continued.

    As it turned out we still would have topped the group with a 1-1 draw and Ukraine still would have gone out so it's not quite justice for Lampards shot 2 years ago. Still, I'll take the luck, god knows we need it!

  • Comment number 10.

    seems I must miss another match.

    italy vs ingaland

    what a snore fest that promises to be

    at least I have 3 other decent quarter finals to watch

  • Comment number 11.

    More sour grapes titus? Come on, credit where it is due. The Ukranians ran out of ideas pretty quickly and heads dropped when they went a goal down. Not a great performance by England but they looked like a team and that's a lot better than the world cup. As everyone seems to say about MU, they win games when they are having a bad day and that's why they have so much success.

  • Comment number 12.

    having said that @ 10

    Go Italy !

    I would like to be able at least to see both semi-finals.

  • Comment number 13.

    Also, as a Chelsea fan I'm starting to wonder if England are matching Chelsea this year with all of the years of bad luck being repaid in full..

  • Comment number 14.

    What are you on about TITus? The fortune highway? Since when have England recieved anything but bad luck at major championships? (Sol Campbells headers, Brazilian flukes, unfortunate sendings off etc..)

  • Comment number 15.

    I don't care about the goal that wasn't given; I care about how bad we played particularly when under pressure. Base on the performance from last three games we will be hammered when we play a "proper" decent side!! People think we are lucky to aviod Spain and get Italy but lets not forget the Italian draw Spain so they are no pushovers.

    Italian are much better defensively so England will have less chance. We are relying too much on counter attack which I don't think that will succeed when playing against the Italian.

    On the final note, please get rid of Miller. Ineffective is a kind word to describe his contribution, he is completely rubbish. He was the worst England player in my opinion and Ashley Young is close second. Just because Miller plays for the Champion that doesn't warrant him a place in the team!! I rather try Young on the right and Downing (yes I don't believe I said this too) on the left to give proper width and play Carrol + Rooney up front. With Stevie in middle we have a decent attacking 5!!

  • Comment number 16.

    Given the performances so far wouldn't you rather be playing Spain that Italy? Spain look toothless with no striker, I can't see them 5-yard passing through the England defence. Italy looked far more dangerous when the two played at the beginning of the tournament.

  • Comment number 17.

    Dear me, why are so many people sucking on the lemon, their bitterness is shining through.

    Te goal that never was, clearly offside from the start, as was a previous attempted header by the Ukraine. The Ukraine could of played until sunday and still not have got a result.

    I am always amazed when a team loses, you have the usual bitters with their 'ifs' and 'could of' do they actually watch a game of football.

    England were not pretty to watch and never will be with that formation, in fact, it could be argued that this was their poorest performance under Roy but they have a certain aura about them now.

    I said some time ago teams will not want to play England by choice, we upset the oppositions rhythm, we defend resolutely and we offer a suprise up front.

    Unfortunately Italy await, one of the teams with balance at the Euros and the last team I wanted to see England face. There again that is not an impossible task for England.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think we should have been ready to accept that with home advantage Ukraine would dominate territory and possession, they were fuelled by a desire to qualify so they would have not only hugely outnumbered our fans and players in that intimidating arena, they would have been screaming their team I can understand England being under the cosh but let's give credit where it's due. They overshadowed a poor attacking display with a dogged defensive display and another great game by Steven Gerrard.

  • Comment number 20.

    Teams that win while playing badly usually puts them in the mix towards the end of a tournament.

    I'm a realist and know this isn't a great England side but they've played five games under Hodgson and won four and drawn one keeping three clean sheets. They've even got the best chance conversion rate in the whole competition.

    They're hard to beat much like Greece were in 2004 so let's not get too caught up in the lack of flair and just celebrate that we've got a real chance here of at least getting to another semi-final.

    We have to acknowledge that England can match anyone on their day even if they're not the better team man-for-man. Having said that the spine of Hart, Terry (with Cole on the left), Gerrard and Rooney is as good as any team out there.

    If we were to get past Italy and face Germany in the last four we may well get humiliated like 2010. Alternatively we could get lucky and readdress the two shoot out losses from '90 and '96 purely by the law of averages. I just want to believe in miracles.

    And remember, we're hosting the Olympics this year just like they Greeks did eight years ago. Maybe, just maybe, it's our year.

  • Comment number 21.

    #18 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    Do you often suffer with insomnia at 7.45pm?

  • Comment number 22.

    malink @16
    Given the performances so far wouldn't you rather be playing Spain that Italy?

    Yes I've said that from the very first game, our greatest chance was against Spain.

    You, I, and everyone else knows how Spain would play and we have the ideal game to match that and get a result. The Belgium and France games displayed how we could frustrate a team into aimlessly passing acrss our defence without ever threatening to score from within the penalty area.

    Italy are one of the few balanced teams at the Euros, they defend well, have a potent attack and they play through midfield, which means we cannot defend as we would have, if we played Spain.

    The saving grace and our weapon against Italy, they do not sustain their game, they have switched off in all three games.

  • Comment number 23.


    How do you know England are boring to watch if you never watch any of their games? Every game they've played has had good chances for both sides.

    Italy look very poor up front this tournament. Cassano has been terrible. Only really Pirlo is a stand out player.

    England are now fourth favourites to win the tournament, in line with their ranking. England haters getting very annoyed......

  • Comment number 24.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 25.


    did you take my advice.

    The bet of the tournament and a no loser.


  • Comment number 26.

    England may not have played well, but football is about getting the result- no matter how you get it- there is no need of a team making 1000 passes in a game yet cant put the ball into the net, in fact such a teams fans usually end up the more frustrated than the more 'defensive' team that scores their goal and soaks up the pressure.

    Just ask the Greek fans.

  • Comment number 27.

    This is just beautiful. The entire paTroll are out having a tantrum about England's progression. I was going to respond to Titus but when I saw all of them throwing their toys out of thier prams I just started laughing at their desperation and bitterness. Keep it going guys - too funny!

    Well done England.

  • Comment number 28.

    Great result, terrible performance but who cares!! Roy should be telling the players anything that happens now is a bonus and just express yourselves!

    Great spirit, it feels like an England team that cares for the first time since 1998.

    One drawback though, how bad is Milner? What does he offer, seriously? Walcott & the Ox must be vexing.

  • Comment number 29.

    #24 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    You never seem to tire. :-D

  • Comment number 30.

    If this was a qualifying game, and England needed a result to get to the finals, we would be invoking the same "spirit of '98" when we drew 0-0 in Italy to get to the WC.

    Ukraine, the host nation, had to win, it was Schevchenko's last game, in front of 50,000 screaming fans. Any team would struggle in that environment. Yet, England won. Fact. Well done.

    The next game will be different, but England should have no fears about beating Italy, though, as always with the Azzuri, the first goal is crucial.

  • Comment number 31.

    Completely agree, Italy will be a challenge but it is doable, the only team that really worries me is Germany. Partly because of their performances so far, partly just the history.
    Nice to see a few people are on here to discuss football rather than everyone reacting to troll_patch and his aliases..

  • Comment number 32.

    1.At 09:50 20th Jun 2012, Titus Bramble wrote:

    ingerlund were dominated by the ukranians and got a massive slice of the luck cake as anyone saw the ball was clearly over the line

    Even a a draw would have put England through as group winners , although the goal not given was a slice of luck it had absolutely no bearing on our outcome.

    What it would have done is put Ukraine through at France´s expense. So the French team and supporters owe a big thankyou to the Hungarian officials.

  • Comment number 33.

    some of the football england played was pretty good here and there, and some of the football they tried to play was very good - which is encouraging. still worry about them taking the easy way out and humping the thing up to a big man, but hopefully Hodgson will continue to resist the temptation.

    on the down side there are clear concerns about the goalkeeper again. I notice last night he was being bestowed with world class status by the talking heads on the BBC sofas. but the stunning save they credited him with actually squeezed under him and went into the goal so I have absolutely no idea how they work out that that was a save, and yet again he also batted a shot straight down in front of him and was lucky this time that it was cleared by a defender rather than met by an attacker (or bouncing into his own net off a defender as happened the other day)

  • Comment number 34.

    Ask Barcelona what they would have preferred - playing well and losing or doing what is necessary and walking away with the Champions League Trophy? Or ask the Dutch what they would prefer right now.

    England have weaknesses in technique and they struggle to keep the ball. But the opposition are struggling to break them down. It's not pretty but its effective and they're getting the job done. I thought the aim was to win.

  • Comment number 35.

    In the past, England have had good sides that didn't get good results. Underperformance, bad fortune, whatever.

    I'm more than happy with a fairly limited side that nonetheless works hard and has some luck in their favour. Reaching the QFs marks this out as one of England's better tournaments in the past twenty years or so.

    Gerrard getting deserved praise, but Lescott's being a real rock too.

  • Comment number 36.

    We could have closed the ball down better from the start but overall we didn't really look like conceding the entire game. Two terrible decisions from the linesman evened themselves out so not really any debate there. Rooney looked rusty as you'd expect but scored the winner, Gerrard probably put in his best performance so far and the defence and Parker looked solid again.

    Overall, job done fairly comfortably and onto Sunday we go!

  • Comment number 37.

    1. At 09:50 20th Jun 2012, Titus Bramble wrote:

    'got a massive slice of the luck cake as anyone saw the ball was clearly over the line'

    Yet the player that received the ball was offside if the linesman could do his job properly this would never have happened.
    But of course you forget about that..

  • Comment number 38.

    31.At 10:55 20th Jun 2012, Malink wrote:
    the only team that really worries me is Germany.

    A possible semi-final with Germany.
    It will probably go to penalties as usual

  • Comment number 39.


    Remarkable how Spain's "sizzling, scintillating" football has produced a whole ONE goal more than England's has, eh? And two-thirds of Spain's goals came against Ireland? Oof. Scintillating indeed.

  • Comment number 40.

    I actually thought England looked a little more solid last night, at the end of the day they have come out of the group with more points than France and the other teams, as they say the statistics never lie...?

    Thought Gerrard and Parker played well, Rooney touch was awful, if Carroll had played we could have been up at half time. Young looks like a little old lady wandering round the shops on her way to a coffee morning, the right footed cross from the left is not working as instead of curling away it is going straight out of play.

    Welbeck looks like MC Hammer, Milner looks like muffin the mule, Lescott looks like someone with severe shortsightedness and can't pass the ball more than 10 yards sideways or least Hart knows what to expect.

    Roll on the Italians, with the clockwork Spanish mice scuttling around on the horizon...

  • Comment number 41.

    18. At 10:43 20th Jun 2012, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:


    Have you ever watched a Spain match? The England game was boring I agree, but it was no more so than the life-sucking drool that is the Spanish.

  • Comment number 42.

    its about time Uefa really had a good tinker with the format.

    Firstly teams should only be awarded points for goals scored

    Any team managing to find the net 3 times in one match is given a Bonus Point

    you get no points if you dish up a 0-0

    In the event of the scores being level at full time, teams to play on until one scores
    playing tactily for penalty kicks needs to be eradicated, as does the assumption a 1-0 win secures you 3 points.

    and seeing as 5 officials seem incapable of judging wether the ball has crossed the line, or not i suggest they employ 2 more of them sitting or standing in the Goal Nets.

  • Comment number 43.

    32: Think even a draw wouldn't have been enough as it goes on head to head results if teams are on the same points.

    Not sure whether I think Blokhin's comments afterwards are funny or quite disgusting! Asking journalists for fights etc.

  • Comment number 44.

    It's fantastic to see England playing as a team.
    I'm looking forward to the continued progression under Hodgson in the coming years.

    On another note it's also fantastic to see the pathetic negative comments from the sad group of (delete as appropriate) whiners / poor losers / not very knowledgable trolls / slightly more knowledgable trolls who are starting to show their fear of this new England. :-)

  • Comment number 45.

    "Honest England".. hmmmm Phil.... more like "boring,dull England"
    don't get me wrong.. I am English and want the team to do well.. and yes we are in the 1/4 finals.. so that being said, everything is going according to plan.. and yes Roy had only a few weeks with the team, and injuries happened.. blah blah blah.. I get all that.. but why do we play so poorly?? we can hardly keep a hold of the ball even against weaker teams.. and Ukraine are hardly world beaters are they!!!.
    I have laughed at some supposed "experts" on BBC and other sights giving players ratings from the game, like 9/10 for Stevie G and 7/10 for Parker, 7/10 Johnson etc... were they actually watching the same game as the rest of us?.. ok Gerrard was the pick of the bunch but nobody covered themselves in any glory did they with that performance... and how how how!!!!! Milner gets in that SQUAD!! is beyond me.. its like watching Barry in 2010 all over again..he offers nothing.. nothing.. and Ashley Young (apart from 1 decent cross) doesn't set the world on fire...these 2 supposed class "wide me" need a rocket up their a*ses!... If Walcott is fit 100% then I say play him and Ox on the wings... changing over every so often to confuse the Italians.. they will not be able to cope with the pace... but I doubt Roy will go that way... it will be more of the same rigid, honest grafters in the team.... this 1/4 on Sunday has 0-0 written all over it.... if England win the dull way, then ok, we won and thats great.... but try and play with a little style !!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    OK, the ball crossed the line - but he was offside by a mile - so no goal is correct.

    Rooney played Rubbish by his standards and is only praised because he scored. But would I pick him against Italy - of course i would.

    I am not convinced that Italy will be easier for us than Spain. We know how Spain will play and we can counter attack - Italy play like us, defensive and with breaks, could be one v boring game. but if we win - who cares.

    Oh and finally, I thought the sign of a trophy winning team, was one that won, even when not playing at their best. Good luck lads.

  • Comment number 47.

    Anti-football is the laziest, stupidest, ill-informed phrase that I've ever heard. Pick up a rule book, follow the rules, and try and win. That's football. That's what England have done pretty successfully so far. Let's get on with it.

  • Comment number 48.

    Not a stellar performance by any means but a wins a wins. And you know what they say, ''the only thing worse than people talking about you is people not talking about you''.
    This is the first time I've ever heard opposition teams and fans complaining about England, this makes me think the Italian were praying to get France and I for one would have preferred to play the mind-numbing Spanish as their front line is a lot less dangerous than that of the Italians.

  • Comment number 49.

    Are there still some clowns on here going on about Ukraine's offside 'goal'?

    Dearie Me.

    Hart - Is there anyone out there who doesn't now see that Hart is world class? (Apart from Trawler, who doesn't like him because he plays for the champions). He's not the best in the world...yet. Top saves last night.

    Johnson - Looked as comfortable in defence last night as he has in a long time. Still a bit unsure positionally.

    Cole - Excellent performance, as usual. knows every trick in the book defensively and always a threat going forward.

    Terry - Masterful performance at the back. Blocked, tackled, intercepted and headed all night. Does exactly what it says on his tin. This was the Terry from 2005. Vindicated Roy's decision not to take the odious, calamitous, divisive Ferdinand.

    Lescott - Never really noticed him. Did everything he was asked to do very well.

    Parker - Still unsure about him. Blocked, tackled and broke up Ukraine attacks as best he could, but didn't really offer anything going forward.

    Gerrard - Where has this form come from?? He was magnificent last night. At times it seemed like there were three Gerrards on the pitch, he was everywhere.

    Milner - Again, offered very little and still looks short of fitness for me. I would suggest Walcott starts against the Italians.

    Young - His worst game so far, but still showed glimpses of what he can do. Caught out in possession and out of position a lot.

    Welbeck - Ran his socks off. Got no service whatsoever and Roy needs to figure out how to bring him into the game as he could potentially devastate the Italians.

    Rooney - To be fair he was awful. His touch was non-existent, his 'headers' were dreadful. Gave the ball away so many times I lost count. Was in the right place at the right time for the goal. One thing though...he can only get better.

  • Comment number 50.

    It might have been a goal but everybody forgets that the pay should have been pulled back for offside.why is that not mentioned

  • Comment number 51.

    Gosh some of you anti-England trolls are boring

    1. When the ball was initially played, it was offside. End of story. So all this "goal-line technology" and "England were lucky" and "payback for South Africa" talk is rubbish. End it now.

    2. England were dominated? Rubbish. It's called "rope a dope", boxing fans. You let a fired-up Ukranian team (in front of a partisan crowd) attack and attack and attack and you sit back and soak up the pressure until they're tired. Then you stick it to them. Boom.

    3. England are rubbish? This month we're 4-1-0, with a brand new manager and an injury list as long as my arm. If we're rubbish, if we're technically inferior, if we keep getting outplayed... why did we just top our group? Why are we in the quarter finals? Why are we ranked 6 by FIFA?

  • Comment number 52.

    At 11:00 20th Jun 2012, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:

    "Any team managing to find the net 3 times in one match is given a Bonus Point"


    In what way is that even close to fair? Gives a ridiculous advantage to anyone with whipping boys in their group.

  • Comment number 53.

    You people need to get with the times and stop regurgitating cliches. Italy haven't played the defensive game since 1998. In this tournament so far they have the third most attempts on target after Spain and France. England are fourth from bottom in the same statistic, ahead of only Ukraine, Rep. Ireland and Greece. The game will only be boring if England make it that way. The stats are on Uefa's website.

  • Comment number 54.

    Boring "ingerlund" Why don't we play the beautiful game like the dutch....and get eliminated.

    Cup football is about results. The Trophy does not say 2004 Boring says 2004 Winners Greece. Apparently France played an attractive match last night, had more possession, shots, they play Spain and it's over for them.

    I am glad we bored ourselves to the top of the group.

  • Comment number 55.

    Compared to previous efforts, these are a set of terrific results. Hodgson was appointed to get results, is doing so, and is a man who clearly knows exactly what he is doing.

    The way England play is really a debate for another day and runs much deeper than a simple 'here and now' tactical/personel choice - we are limited by our technical ability which is quashed in players at an early age in favour of the physical robustness and fast pace of the English game. Experience shows that it is impossible to replicate this playing style in big tournaments against teams who play the game a different way. So we must find another way, and Hodgson has.

    Against Italy I think Hodgson will show a different hand and inject the pace of Walcott (in place of Milner) from the start, seeing weakness In the sluggish Italian defence. I also expect Defoe to be a more likely substitute than Carrol for the same reasons. We will see.

    I for one am happy to see a manger who knows what he is doing, pride in the England shirt, a cohesive team, ego free and aware of their limitations.

    Well done indeed.

  • Comment number 56.

    To be fair, the self-perceived GOATs of England have endured enough punishment to date.

    I must rate Roy. He may have created a glorified West Brom fur-der-Euro's, but he's a man of principle and steel. And dare I say it- a manager that's been talking some sense (read truth)! Just some.

    England, well done. You've somehow progressed further than teams of real talent. But justice wasn't served yesterday and is the last straw. Say hello to the Italians, and goodbye to the Tournament.

  • Comment number 57.

    Two years ago everyone made it out that not giving that lampard "goal" was the greatest injustice of all time, apparently England were robbed that day when they were clearly outplayed by a much stronger and much more talented German side. Now you get a slice of good fortune and everyone is saying how they deserve make your own luck in the world

    Also everyone slated hodgson when he was appointed and now he's doing a half decent job the press are loving him, he's exceeding expectations, just goes to show how fickle the English can be

  • Comment number 58.

    At 11:00 20th Jun 2012, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:

    "Any team managing to find the net 3 times in one match is given a Bonus Point"

    So that means we would have a bonus point for the Sweden game then?? The only team in our group to score three in one game.


  • Comment number 59.

    Its funny how Gerrard is pivotal this around. The certainty with the captaincy is a factor sure but thought I would throw a hand grenade into the debate ?

    When Chelsea survived against Barcelona in that crucial first leg, and that is all they did, how much of that was down to Luis being injured and being unable to play ? His kamikaze defending was not a factor on the night when defence WAS the key.

    A few weeks later, Lampard gets injured and so any option to play him and Gerrard together goes out of the window ? is is coincidence that Gerrard has been pivotal to date ?

  • Comment number 60.

    overall i think we got lucky, we were outplayed for the majority of last nights game, our goal was luck with 2 deflections before rooney taped in, and yes the ukranian goal was offside but it could have been given so i still think we were lucky, if u see what i mean

    but so what, we deserve some luck after the last few tournaments, i think rooney was poor tho, there were 2 chances that went to him that i believe carrol would have buried, not sure if its connected or not but this was our worst performance out of the 3 and the one rooney played in ..

  • Comment number 61.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 62.

    England, well done. You've somehow progressed further than teams of real talent.


    So talented that they've gone out in the group stages?

    If you're going to attempt to undermine the teams efforts, at least make sense.

  • Comment number 63.

    42. At 11:00 20th Jun 2012, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:

    'as does the assumption a 1-0 win secures you 3 points.'

    So by this logic Spain would not be World and European champions?
    In the World Cup I'm not even sure they scored more than once in a match, correct me if I'm wrong and we'll tally up their points.
    Also, we will do the same for Euro 2008 and see where that gets them..

  • Comment number 64.




    Maybe best post yet.

  • Comment number 65.

    also i would like to suggest once the qualifying aspects are over and done with
    those having been successful in progressing further should go into a hat/bowl
    and another draw takes place to determine who meets who.

  • Comment number 66.

    32.At 10:55 20th Jun 2012, You wrote:
    What it would have done is put Ukraine through at France´s expense. So the

    Oops, not correct !
    Problem with my maths this morning, a draw would have still put France through.
    I blame too many beers last night.

  • Comment number 67.

    Please not penalties again, time to get a bigger sofa to hide behind.. Then again, Chelsea have shown that even the Germans can be beaten on penalties!

    Why not start your own sport? Football started off as a game with loads of different versions, the one we follow now is just the most popular. Good luck with that.

  • Comment number 68.


    No, 1-0 is still 3 points- they still would've won it.

  • Comment number 69.

    The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:

    What are the footballing gods playing at? We need some divine intervention to stop this cowardly anti-football being rewarded!
    I won't even bother watching the England v Italy quarter-final (unless I'm suffering from insomnia). England's grotesque brand of anti-football versus the cynical, negative, anti-footballing Italians. It will be the ''anti-football derby''.
    Oh, have I mentioned that England's perverse ''style'' of play constitutes anti-football?


  • Comment number 70.

    How sad, predictable and all too dull that the Troll faction has to come on here bleating their pathetic fury at England's progression. We're not the prettiest nor the most technically gifted side but for once we've had a bit of luck - that luck being that an offside goal was not given.

    We're not going to win the tournament but then I had feared we wouldn't even make it past the group stage, and blow me but we go and top it!

    I'm just enjoying the ride; well done indeed to Roy Hodgson, well done to Gerrard, to Hart, yes, even to Terry, who after two wobbly games was very good indeed.

    Just enjoy it, everyone, as long as it may last.

  • Comment number 71.

    My Player Ratings

    Hart: 5/10: Did ok- looked a bit nervous, not for the first time this tourney either- better teams could punish his mistakes.

    Cole: 6/10: Looked alot more assured than he did against Sweden.

    Terry: 7/10: A very good performance marred by his obvious lack of pace with Ukraine should have punished more heavily. A worry against better sides.

    Lescott:6/10: Much more confident than against Sweden- we miss Cahill though.

    Johnson: 5/10: Anonymous for most of the game. Would have been lower if England didnt keep their clean sheet.

    Parker: 4/10: His efforts to stem he Ukraine attack were admirable- but he was one of Englands worst performers, offering nothing in attack and leaving Gerrard to try and create. His inclusion highlight Englands obvious lack of choices in this position.

    Gerrard:8/10: The only attacking threat in the midfield, he is the only man capable of getting the ball to the strikers. If teams close him down, they will find England so easy to beat.

    Milner 4/10: Virtually anonymous for most of the game- we saw glimpses of what he can do, but he offers so little going forward and lacks any sort of pace that the full back had no worries with him for most of the game.

    Young: 5/10: Promising first half followed by complete anonymity. The fact Young is still the best player England have in this position despite his current form is worrying. Lets hope he finds his touch again.

    Rooney: 6/10: Looked bright and energetic when he did get the ball- lack of support from midfield starved England of more chances. For his first game in a month I dont think there can be many complaints- should have taken the header however.

    Welbeck: 6/10: Once again starved for support from Englands midfield, always looked good with the ball but quickly found himself outnumbered when going forward.

    Walcott: 5/10: had little impact.
    The Ox: 4/10: Still looks nervous, should have passed to Walcott for a great chance.

  • Comment number 72.

    Why is it that most people, especially the BBC given their articles, seem to be oblivious to the fact that Ukraine were offside before the goal-line clearance. It should never have got that far, that was bad luck for England!

  • Comment number 73.

    as an Englishman living in Spain... I can tell you that Spanish people are slightly concerned about how they are playing right now.. the Italians look better organized than usual and offer a bit more upfront.. I think playing Italy will be a harder game... and as for the previous comment about England being no 6 team in the World.. you have to laugh at Fifa's ranking system..

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    Thankfully, there isn't an Engerlund v Greece QF. That would mean there would be 3 QFs this tournament.

  • Comment number 76.

    ok, first, yes Spain play truely great football and we would all love Egland to play like that, but there is more than 1 way to win a football match. And i would like to hope that if Spain at some stage do get knocked out, i hope you will show some humitity in defeat and accept that. im not saying its great to watch, its just the way we have to play right now. yes we was lucky, but all teams get lucky sometimes. thats football, you cant plan a tactic for good or bad luck.

  • Comment number 77.

    Delighted that we won and topped the group, before the tournament I only ever hoped we would play like a team and possibly get out of the group.

    Regardless of who is in the team against Italy, the big worry for me is what we do when we under pressure in possession. Last night at one point we had 20+ passes while trying to go forward but couldn't quite make it tell and create a chance. The ball was worked back to Joe Hart via a defender and straight away a big long kick down the middle and guess what - we lost possession. That's what has me shouting and swearing at the telly.

  • Comment number 78.

    Malink @31
    Completely agree, Italy will be a challenge but it is doable, the only team that really worries me is Germany. Partly because of their performances so far, partly just the history.
    Nice to see a few people are on here to discuss football rather than everyone reacting to troll_patch and his aliases..

    I said to a poster last night, Germany have not progressed since the world cup.

    They may have won all their games but the opposition all had faults, no doubt I'll be inundated by writing that. The Germans also switched off and are nothing like the top class German teams of the past, they are however a functional outfit.

    Holland were never a team, little harmony within the camp, managed badly with appalling tactics, they peaked when they reached the final in 2010. Teams need refreshing they never were refreshed and payed the price.

    Denmark a good honest hard working team with little in the way of suprises.

    Portugal, well against the Germans they played with the fear of losing for most of the match, yes i think the reputation of Germany as a team got to them.

    Most seem to think Grermany/Greece is a walkover and are priced accordingly at 1/3 in 90 mins play, they are definitely not a walkover.

  • Comment number 79.

    England were outplayed and yet got the result they required!!!

    Reminds me of a certain Chelsea team in the season just gone??

    Many can argue England did not deserve it but only 3 shots on target by Ukraine all night which was the same as England. And the one shot that was on target (and went in from Ukraine) was offside anyway.

    Possession Ukraine dominated but if you can not do anything with the ball in the final third then no matter how much possession you get you do not deserve anything from the match. Gerrard was outstanding and his partner in crime Parker did what he had to at crucial stages!!

    Now Quarter Final v Italy will again be a close game and will probably be decided on penalties. No matter what happens it has been a successful tournament from England. Well done Hodgson hard work begins as this tournament ends.

  • Comment number 80.

    How are England boring? Something always happens at every tournament, and the 3-2 win against Sweden nearly gave me a heart attack.

    Some people are so far up themselves - these so called "experts" (armchair football fans) can't see something so glaringly obvious that England don't have the same kind of players as, say, Spain - and resort to trolling and hating England's style of play - when really you should get behind them and support them. I've actually had a great laugh reading some of these comments from people such as Soul Patch, thanks for making my morning.

    England have done very well to get where they are, team balance and cohesion goes a very long way - and the odd slice of luck helps as well. (both Ukraine's best chances were offside anyway).

    I will be watching the game on Sunday and cheering on England

  • Comment number 81.

    i cannot, for the life of me, understand the constant negativity surrounding England from the fans. For once our boys are going out there with their ego's dampened down. Just look at the images at full time against Ukraine with them all in a group hug. I haven't seen that in years from the England team. There is a strong togetherness and fight in this team that we have appeared to lack in recent years.
    I'm proud of our team, for once, and will be even if we are defeated by the Italians.
    Gerrard has been outstanding and, from the Ukraine game, so too was Hart, Terry, Lescott and Parker. Why can't we be proud and back our boys? We're playing a style that suits us, we never get luck, so when we do why are we shunning it? Italy won the world cup with masses of luck in 06. Netherlands attacked and attacked and ultimately came away with not even a single point this competition. There's real spirit in this team and i say we should back them til the end. Another fine article Mr McNulty.

  • Comment number 82.

    Dear Darrenespana,

    Suggest you stick to football manager (or whatever it's called ) on the playstation and watching selected "premium" games on Sky.

    Football isn't about "style"... it's about winning. A Team playing together has a good chance of achieving that aim.

    This is the best England team i have seen since 1990.
    The period inbetween (1996 and a brief showing of ability aside) despite ghaving supposed "world class" players has been dreadful.

    Style ultimately wins you northing. (Unless you are participating in ice skating...)

  • Comment number 83.

    An interesting performance statistic - with one goal for every 17.5 minutes of possession, England are second only to Portugal for goal-scoring efficiency amongst the eight quarter finalists.

  • Comment number 84.


    sweden perhaps scoring 3 against France ? seeing as they apparently had nothing to play for, as they were already out I think it would give greater incentive and also put an end the predictable nonsense of automatic qualification.

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    @41: exactly!!!! Did anyone see the last world cup final??

    This is the epitomy of Spain at Euro 2012: 900 passes (the vast majority backwards or sideways), 30 dives, one goal. And they even play games without a single recognised striker!

    And THIS is deemed courageous, attacking, technically-superior, entertaining football? Give me Sweden v England any day.

    I just wish that Croatian muppet had scored with that header and Spain had been sent packing

  • Comment number 87.


    That's what I love, the England self-perceived GOATs are in dreamland because they've avoided 'life-sapping-sideways-Spain-bla-bla'.

    They've walked right into a trap, Italy in tournaments are unforgiving and this team I rate as potentially equal to the 2006 WC (not toilet) winners.

  • Comment number 88.

    At 10:54 20th Jun 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    #24 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    You never seem to tire. :-D
    He's an android app

  • Comment number 89.

    Played quite poorly so far but are in the quarters, if they start playing better they might actually win it at this rate.

  • Comment number 90.

    #88 King Red

    Crashes alot and bug-ridden?

  • Comment number 91.

    World class is a stupid term anyway, as no one can actually provide a definition of 'world class' in the first place.

  • Comment number 92.


    'This is the epitomy of Spain at Euro 2012: 900 passes (the vast majority backwards or sideways), 30 dives, one goal. And they even play games without a single recognised striker!'

    It's called football poor sap, you have to pass the ball around when playing team football.

  • Comment number 93.

    I'm not going to claim last night was a classic. The first half made me wonder if we were going to get a rerun of that 0-0 vs Nigeria in the '02 World Cup which was probably the most boring match I've ever seen England play in a major tournament.

    Yet just as that result was all we needed in '02, a 0-0 last night would've done me.

    What we got was a winner from Wayne and a slice of luck for what should have been a Ukraine equaliser. Given what happened vs Germany in the last World Cup I'll take that luck, a 1-1 draw would have still seen us top the group anyway.

    We may not be awesome but I still left the pub last night more high than I have been in a major tournament since '96! That Euro 96 team would probably give lot a serious reality check. However they don't have to face that '96 team. They don't even have to face Patch's golden boys who would probably have also given us a reality check.

    They face a less-than-vintage Italian side and given how bulletproof we are I say they are a doable Italian side. Beware the Germans in the semis though.

    Still, it's a good time to be an England fan! :)

  • Comment number 94.


    Sums up perfectly all of your tedious posts about the Spanish

  • Comment number 95.


    Easy. Engerlund are by definition *not* World Class. Been anywhere near the Cup since 1266 (please remind me I seem to have forgotten the date!)?

  • Comment number 96.

    What I find most amazing, is that there are only 2 sentences about the Ukraine goal that was not given. If it had happened the other way around the whole of the BBC sports page would have been calling UEFA cheats. In England the call for goal line technology was number one subject when Chelsea were awarded a goal when the ball never crossed the line. Lampard's goal in the World Cup 2010 which was not given. Something has to be done about it was the call. Punters, Refs and managers saying this cannot go on. Today!!!! no one is saying anything. One can only say that England is full of a bunch of hypocrites. Dumped out in the next round. Hopefully

  • Comment number 97.

    Even though Rooney was not that great, he did get a lot of the ball, more so that Welbeck, he put his heart an soul into it, as did England. Ukraine may have had most of the ball but they didn't do enough with it.

  • Comment number 98.

    @ Soul Patch: fancy that, it wasn't 5-1 or 6-1 to the Ukraine? Any more predictions?

    That was literally a schoolboy howler

    :rubs chin and rolls eyes because I can multi-task like a woman:

  • Comment number 99.

    This England team should be X rated. There's no way small children should be allowed watch this rubbish lest they mistake it for football and follow suit.

    Napoleon would have instantly installed Hodgson as one of his generals. Lucky doesn't even begin to describe the man. Outplayed 3 times and yet 7 points on the board. Anyone would take that, but Mr Hodgson will soon be facing his Waterloo.

    Next it's a very poor Italian side, a match that looks like being the borefest of the century. That one has 0-0 and penalty shoot-out written all over it....and that will guarantee Mr Hodgson packing his bags and sparing us more of this dross.

    Shocking performances all round from by the English players. Milner and Young on the wings bring the words ashtray and motorbike to mind. Welbeck looks out of his depth and if Rooney hadn't scored it would have been another annonymous England outing for him.

    As for Walcott, as predicted his little cameo last time out was a one off. I believe he came on last night but had once again borrowed the Harry Potter invisibility cloak.

    For the rest it was backs to the wall and fingers crossed. So far the Gods have bestowed wonderous gifts on Hodgson. They surely can't have much left to give to help salavge this shambles of a team.

  • Comment number 100.

    well ingerlund will be having their last supper in poland/ukraine on sunday

    then back home

    there going home there going home there going

    ingerlunds going home


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