England can start to dream

June 20, 2012

“After England squeaked by the unfancied Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup quarterfinal, then-coach Bobby Robson was moved to quip, ‘We didn’t underestimate them. They were just a lot better than we thought.’ Roy Hodgson’s team may feel similarly after winning 1-0 against a frenetically impressive, attack-minded Ukraine. A dour first half was followed by the entertaining spectacle of the second. England held on and was rewarded. France’s insipid collapse against eliminated Sweden in the other Group D match means the Three Lions topped their group and avoid the world champions in the quarterfinals.” ESPN (Video)

England 1-0 Ukraine: cagey game
“Wayne Rooney returned to head in a simple goal, and England finish top of Group D. Roy Hodgson dropped Andy Carroll to bring in Rooney, so Danny Welbeck returned to his position as the primary centre-forward. Oleh Blokhin made various changes – Andriy Shevchenko wasn’t fit enough to start, and Andriy Voronin was dropped, so there was an all-new centre-forward partnership of Artem Milevskiy and Marco Devic. Serhiy Nazarenko was replaced by Denys Harmash, and Yaroslav Rakitskiy came in at the back. Like all three of England’s matches, this was poor technical game lacking in quality, and many of the chances came from set-pieces and crosses.” Zonal Marking

Three thoughts: England casts aside hype to thrive on grit
“Three thoughts on England’s 1-0 victory against Ukraine, which sent England (first place) and France (second) to the Euro 2012 quarterfinals, while Ukraine and Sweden were eliminated… This England provides plenty thrills (of a slightly different kind). No wonder manager Roy Hodgson was all smiles after the final whistle: England has already exceeded expectations at the Euros, winning Group D with seven points. The English public, too, seems to have warmed to a side that has a little bit of everything — experience, grit, fight, pace, youth — but is mercifully lacking the sense of entitlement that has hampered previous versions of the ‘Three Lions’.” SI

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France has reason to worry

June 20, 2012

“In a hurry, the optimism surrounding France at the European Championships has faded. Set to win Group D and avoid a confrontation with defending European and world champion Spain, France lost 2-0 to already-eliminated Sweden in Kiev on a steamy Tuesday night to set up that unwanted pairing in the quarterfinals. England, as group winner (yes, you’re seeing right), gets Italy instead. After France won at a major tournament for the first time in six years on Friday, out went Les Bleus’ 23-match unbeaten streak with a stunning Zlatan Ibrahimovic volley in the 54th minute.” ESPN (Video)