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Thursday, June 21, 2012
Rooney, England score controversial victory
DONETSK, Ukraine — Only one goal counted, and it belonged to Wayne Rooney.
The England striker returned from a two-match suspension to head in the lone goal Tuesday and give his team a 1-0 win over Ukraine and a spot in the European Championship quarterfinals against Italy on Sunday. The cohost Ukrainians, however, will leave the tournament knowing that things could have been different.
Needing a win to advance, the Ukrainians thought they had tied it the 62nd minute when Marko Devic's deflected shot appeared to loop over the line before it was hooked clear by England defender John Terry. But the goal was not awarded by the referee or his extra assistant, who was half-standing on the field only a few meters from the post.
"The goal that wasn't given really changed our plan because if it was given, I think the whole game could have looked another way," Ukraine captain Andriy Shevchenko said through an interpreter. "We tried to give Ukraine a gift but we weren't able to do it."
Although a draw still would have eliminated them, the equalizer would have given the team hope knowing that another goal would put Ukraine through to the quarterfinals.
"I was sad because the ball was in the goal by one meter," Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin said.
The controversy will likely add to the pressure on UEFA President Michel Platini to reverse his opposition to goal-line technology.
At the 2010 World Cup, England midfielder Frank Lampard was denied a goal that would have leveled the match against Germany at 2-2. England ended up losing 4-1.
"To be successful you need a bit of luck," England captain Steven Gerrard said. "Two years ago we were unlucky with Frank Lampard and we had to pack our bags."
It was Rooney, however, who did manage to put his team on the scoreboard on Tuesday.
Gerrard whipped a cross into the penalty area that glanced off two defenders before Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov let it slip through his hands as he crouched to collect the ball. Rooney was at the far post and made it count.
"I was always putting myself in goalscoring opportunities," Rooney said. "I could've done better with a couple more but I got the goal and it's three points."
Rooney missed the first two Euro 2012 matches through suspension. He was sent off in the team's last qualifier in October, and received a three-match suspension that was eventually reduced to two.
The goal was Rooney's first at a major tournament since scoring four at Euro 2004 as an 18-year-old rising star. He failed to find the net at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, while England failed to even qualify for Euro 2008.
Les Bleus into quarters
KIEV — France was outplayed, outfought and outscored, and that was against a team with nothing to play for.
With world champion Spain now waiting in the quarterfinals of the European Championship, things better improve quickly for the French to stand a chance of going any further.
France limped into the knockout round of Euro 2012 despite a 2-0 loss to Sweden in their final Group D game, showing just how much the team still needs to improve to be true contenders in the tournament. The French finished second in Group D.
France will face Spain on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
"You have to be optimistic to think that we can beat Spain, but it's hard right now to imagine that we can. We have to do better on Saturday," France coach Laurent Blanc said. "We wanted to finish top of the group but couldn't manage it, so we have to deal with that."