England suffered penalty agony once more as Italy won a shoot-out after the Euro 2012 quarter-final finished goalless in Kiev.
Italy were vastly superior to England over the course of 120 minutes – but the resilience and organisation that have swiftly become the trademark under new manager Roy Hodgson took an enthralling game to penalties.
And, as on five of the previous six occasions England have entered this sudden-death environment, they were left heartbroken, with Italy confirming a semi-final meeting with Germany in Warsaw on Thursday.
England captain Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney were successful from the spot, but Ashley Young struck the bar and Ashley Cole’s effort was saved by Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Mario Balotelli scored Italy’s first spot-kick but Riccardo Montolivo’s miss gave England hope that was cruelly snatched away as Andrea Pirlo audaciously chipped in his spot-kick and Antonio Nocerino coolly slotted home before former West Ham midfielder Alessandro Diamanti scored the decisive penalty.
England cannot complain that the better team did not emerge as winners – but even in the face of a constant wave of Italian attacks Hodgson’s men still showed enough heart and durability to make their Euro 2012 exit with pride.
Wayne Rooney marked his England return with the goal that secured a place in Euro 2012′s last eight – but it was a rough passage eased by helpings of good fortune and controversy against Ukraine.
England manager Roy Hodgson instantly restored Rooney after a two-match suspension in place of Andy Carroll with orders to make a belated mark on the campaign after sitting out the draw against France and victory against Sweden.
And after missing a simple header in the first half, the Manchester United striker ensured England topped Group D to set up a quarter-final meeting with Italy in Kiev on Sunday.
England could have met world and European champions Spain but that eventuality was avoided by Sweden’s 2-0 win against France, and Rooney’s first goal in a major tournament since scoring twice in the 4-2 victory over Croatia in Lisbon at Euro 2004.
Ukraine, however, will complain long and hard about a contentious second-half incident when Marko Devic’s shot clearly crossed the line before it was scrambled away by John Terry, only for the officials to remain unmoved.
Predictable? Stereotyped? Up yours Jonas Thern
England came from behind to beat Sweden for the first time in a competitive fixture after their Euro 2012 campaign flirted with danger in a thriller in Kiev.
Andy Carroll’s superb first-half header allowed England to establish comfortable control – but poor defending allowed Olof Mellberg to score twice and put Sweden ahead before the hour.
England manager Roy Hodgson required inspiration and found it in the shape of substitute Theo Walcott as the Arsenal attacker turned the game around with a spectacular equaliser and a penetrating run to set up Danny Welbeck’s deft winner with 12 minutes left.
Hodgson’s side had been derided in some quarters for their conservative approach in the opening 1-1 draw with France but there could be no complaints about the entertainment value on offer here in Ukraine – although not all of it was intentional or admirable.
He will take heart from England’s positive response to adversity but will be hugely concerned that trouble came as the result of a collective lapse of defensive concentration that gave Sweden an all-too-easy route back into this contest.
England are too “predictable” and “stereotyped” to beat Sweden on Friday, according to their opponents’ former skipper Jonas Thern.
England drew 1-1 with France in their opening game while Sweden were beaten 2-1 by Ukraine, but Thern believes the Scandinavians are the better team.
“The one shot towards the France goal over 90 minutes was all it took to ignite the chronic English illusion of world football supremacy,” he said.
“Their style of play is predictable.”
Thern, who won 75 caps for his country and helped them to finish third at the 1994 World Cup, believes England are not good enough – despite being impressed with their appointment of Roy Hodgson as manager.
England have never beaten Sweden in seven tournament clashes, and Thern is backing his countrymen to extend that impressive record.
“I said before the Euro finals started that Sweden would beat England and I stand by that statement despite the horrific display against the Ukraine,” said the former Benfica, Napoli, Roma and Rangers midfielder.
England has a point won against France, and Roy Hodgson did well and managed to create a competitive team very quickly, even without Rooney. This will be the last match of his ban before he comes back against Ukraine. The Swedes haven’t utilized Zlatan Ibrahimovic enough and lost against the spirited Ukrainian team, and they need to win here if they want to qualify for the knock-out round. The match is played on Friday June 15th, 2:45 pm US Eeastern time.
Against Ukraine, Sweden didn’t use Zlatan Ibrahimovic enough, but the below-average team mostly tried to design offensive actions without him. Ibrahimovic would fall back to the defensive midfielder position to send a simple pass, which is more than the poor Swedish team could do. As a consequence, Ibrahimovic was too far away from the Ukrainian goal to pose a real threat, and the finishing was left to bad players such as Wilhelmson and Elmander, who can’t play at this level. Still, Ibrahimovic managed to score and will be a major threat for the English defence as well. However, against England his services will again be needed in midfield as there will be no other way for the Swedes to penetrate the English defence.
Roy Hodgson quickly put all the pieces together and made England play well, and in absence of Wayne Rooney he used youngsters Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck to get some offensive flair up front. Andy Carroll was left on the bench. The entire English team worked well, and Steven Gerrard was the key player, he dictated play with his direct long balls towards wingers and strikers.
For this match, Gerrard and Scott Parker are questionable, as they are over 30 and Hodgson is worried they might not endure the tournament’s pace and play once every four days. James Milner is likely to play in midfield as Hodgson intends to rest his two hard-working midfielders. Since Frank Lampard didn’t travel with the team as he’s injured, Hodgson will have to patch up the midfield with some other player.
I arrived at Timberwood at 11:30 on Monday. Was pretty quiet until a couple of English lads asked if I was Charlie from the Blog. Yes sirs indeed ’tis I for sure. Smashing. I have large screen tv’s, and a bunch of Brits to shout “The referee’s A Wanker” with for 90 minutes. Jumpers for goalposts on the car park boys !!!
A dull first half for England. Don’t get me wrong the defense was very solid an Joe Hart of the noisy neighbors seemed to be holding his own despite letting a goal in 9 minutes after Lescott scored a gem of a header from a lovely cross by Stevie G. The biggest shocker of all came in he second half. The wife calls me to remind me I have a doctors appointment. Right now. And I can’t miss it “MOTHER F%$%#R, BU”I**$T, BOLLOCKS”.
I had to think fast. I have an iPhone – I have internet. Goto espn.go.com and see if the games are streaming. It tells me to download the app WatchESPN (its free)
The App was showing me that the game was no won live. So i hit the live button. Nothing. I smack it a few times against the car door. Nothing. This app is taking the piss.
England did not pull up any trees with the 1-1 draw with France, but they certainly have something to build upon.
Back-to-back wins in the Euro 2012 warm-up games and the draw with France have provided England fans with the belief that they can have a go and make something of this tournament.
With seemingly the hardest of the three group games now out of the way, Roy Hodgson will need to freshen things up and chance his team’s approach in the next two games against Sweden and Ukraine.
England worked well to contain France, with a solid showing from a rigid back four.
Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole found themselves in more withdrawn full-back roles, defending well without venturing forward as often as the do in the Premier League.