Created on 20-06-2012 at 00:00 AM
Prior to Tuesday evening’s matches at Euro 2012, Czech Republic, Greece, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Italy had already booked their places in the quarter-finals, where they have now been joined by England and France. In the final round of Group D fixtures, England defeated co-hosts Ukraine 1–0, and although the French lost 2–0 to Sweden, Franck Ribéry and co-finished runners-up in the section.
The winger and his team-mates thus keep alive their dreams of continental glory, but for Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, the Euro adventure on home soil is over. Tymo and company in fact performed creditably in front of a boisterous home crowd in Donetsk, largely keeping English superstar Wayne Rooney under control on the striker’s return from suspension.
Rooney makes the difference
However, the burly Manchester United striker showed his class for long enough to score the only goal of the game three minutes after half-time. Ukraine keeper Andrei Pjatov misjudged Steven Gerrard's deflected cross, leaving Rooney to nod home his first goal for his country in more than nine months from barely a yard.
Needing a win to stay in the tournament, and driven on by captain for the night Tymo, Ukraine created a number of chances and a Marko Devic shot appeared to cross the line prior to John Terry's desperate clearance, but the match officials waved play on. England kept their shape and held on comfortably enough to book a last eight date with Italy.
The French, who were under no pressure in terms of qualifying from the group, could have done without the defeat to Sweden as their second-place finish means they now meet world and European champions Spain in the quarter-finals. France's first defeat in 24 matches came courtesy of a stunning Zlatan Ibrahimovic strike on 54 minutes and a last-minute Sebastian Larsson effort.
Good display by Ribéry
“I think Sweden deserved the win. They were playing for pride, and it was enough against a very average France," reflected Blues boss Laurent Blanc. The 63,000 crowd in Kiev saw a relatively low-key encounter with deserved winners. The only French players to come close to normal form were Ribéry and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.