England scraped into the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 after a goal-line refereeing blunder helped them to a 1-0 win over Ukraine which sent the co-hosts crashing out.
A 48th-minute header from returning talisman Wayne Rooney was enough to see England finish top of Group D and send them into a quarter-final in Kiev on Sunday against Italy.However Ukraine — missing injured captain Andrei Shevchenko — were desperately unlucky not to have earned at least a draw after Marko Devic had a clear goal wrongly disallowed on 62 minutes.Devic, who appeared to have been offside in the build-up to the goal, had powered into the box and saw his shot fly over keeper Joe Hart towards goal.
However, John Terry launched himself into an acrobatic clearance to hook the ball away and despite furious Ukrainian appeals no goal was given.Television replays showed the ball had crossed the line by several inches but had incredibly been missed by the additional assistant referee stationed behind the goal.It was a goal-line controversy that echoed Frank Lampard’s disallowed effort for England against Germany at the 2010 World Cup and is almost certain to hasten the introduction of goal-line technology.
FIFA is expected to approve the introduction of two systems which are currently being tested at a meeting after the European Championships.Relieved England captain Steven Gerrard admitted his side had been lucky — but said England had been due a break.”To be successful in these tournaments, because of the standard of teams involved, you need that bit of luck going with you,” Gerrard said.”Two years ago we didn’t get that luck with Frank Lampard’s goal, a big turning point in that game against Germany, and we ended up packing our bags and going home. Today the luck turned.
“It just shows that, if you keep working hard and keep fighting, you earn that luck. We deserved it today.”England, however, will head to their quarter-final meeting with Italy chastened by the knowledge that on another night they could easily have been heading home after being outplayed for much of the match.England coach Roy Hodgson was proud of the way his players had battled to preserve their advantage and make it five games unbeaten since he took over.
“It was a very good defensive and disciplined performance,” he said.”We could have shown some more composure on the ball but we are a fledgling team and we can work on that part.”But Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin was scathing of the decision which had denied his team a goal which could have swung the contest back in his side’s favour.”There are five referees on the pitch and the ball is 50 centimetres behind the goal-line,” Blokhin fumed. “You write what you want – you’ve seen it. I don’t want to criticise the referee.”We conceded a lucky goal. We were able to equalise, but they didn’t give it to us. Then we also played a very good game. England just played on the counter-attack. In the second half, they had no opportunities.
“Their threat only came from a few set-pieces, but it was just not our day.”England had ridden their luck in a one-sided first-half which Ukraine dominated, carving out a string of promising openings only to be denied by either desperate defending or the goalkeeping of Hart.Ukraine, needing a win to progress, had started brightly with Denys Garmash letting fly as early as the sixth minute.Terry was pressed into action on 18 minutes when he blocked a shot from Yevgeny Konoplyanka with his shoulder as the Ukrainian onslaught continued.
A goal seemed to certain to come in the 30th minute when Artem Milevskiy released Yarmolenko into the area only for Hart to save well from close range.Somehow England had managed to stay level at the break and then three minutes after the restart they got a goal that stunned the hosts.Gerrard beat Yarmolenko down the right and sent a dangerous cross into the six-yard box. The ball took touches off two Ukrainian defenders before skidding through goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov to Rooney for the simplest of headers.
“It is nice to score in a major finals as its been a while,” Rooney said.”It’s nice to do it for the team as well as the lads were fantastic and defended really well.”Ukraine fought back, with Milevskiy heading over on the hour mark before the flashpoint involving Devic and Terry that ensured the headlines would be dominated by the goal-line technology debate.Shevchenko’s arrival from the substitutes bench on 70 minutes threatened a revival but there was to be no fairytale ending for the veteran striker as England hung on desperately. – Yahoonews