Seven Points on the Match
England 1 Ukraine 0
- Ukraine must have felt being let down by the match officials when they were denied a legitimate goal last night but to be honest they have only the players to blame for the early elimination from the tournament. In spite of being the better team for major part of the match, they simply didn’t take their chances that came their way. It is true that absence of Andriy Shevchenko upfront was a major loss for them but then again, you cannot count on a single player to carry you every other day.
- Roy Hodgson must be a overjoyed man after his team topped Group D. At the same time, he must be knowing how much England has to improve if they want to progress beyond the next match. Hodgson’s strategy from the start of the tournament clearly has been based on a solid defensive organization. But the way his defence was shaky at times against last night specially against crosses from the wide areas must been noticed by Cesare Prandelli, he will definitely be looking to capitalize over them. Although these are early days under his coaching, but Hodgson has to take some measure to close the loop-holes in his defensive line otherwise his honeymoon period won’t last long.
- Tactically speaking, Ukraine was clearly the better team though the result suggests other. At times, the barrage of Ukraine attacks clearly unsettled the English. In the midfield, it was mainly the job of Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker to supply ammunitions for the forwards. Although personally Gerrard is having a good tournament with assists in all the three games, his combination with Scott Parker was not been able to dictate the game. The English midfield was too predictable and lack of improvisation from the wide players didn’t allow them to build up a sustained pressure on the Ukraine defence, mostly aerial route became their favoured way of attack. On the otherhand, Ukraine were able to spread their game to the wings and switch the flanks regularly. Their wingers Konoplayanka and Yarmolenko proved to be handful for the English defence and were a treat to watch. Had the two strikers be more clinical, the result would have changed.
- A lot was written about Wayne Rooney’s return before the match. Although his goal separated the two sides, clearly Rooney didn’t play the way he does week in week out for Manchester United. In the first half, he was a pale shadow of himself and without much support from midfield, it was difficult for him to get going. In the second half, he improved but still English fans will like to see for more of the club form that makes him such a dangerous player. He has to link up with the midfield and make others play around him, his understanding with Danny Welbeck was almost non-existant.
- Ukraine people will be disappointed for their early exit from the tournament. They must have expected more specially as they are one of the host this time but they must be realistic of what to expect from their team. Given the potential available to Oleh Blokhin, it was difficult to for him to guide the team past the group stage. However, the fans must stand beside their team as the way Ukraine played a spirited football has surprised many. Except the France match, players gave their heart out and with a little bit of luck, they could have reached quarter-final stage. This team can thrive in the future, with proper injection of young talents and sticking to their football philosophy they will alight the international stage. This tournament will be remembered for Ukraine’s favourite son ‘Sheva’ as this was his swansong tournament. The way he turned back the times against Sweden will be always cherished by his fans.
- Probably no English fans expected the Three- Lions to top the group at the start with some even fearing a group stage exit. So they must be elated with this showing so far and hordes of fans will be on their way to give support in the quarterfinal. Italy awaits the English there and are a different proposition to what they have faced till now. Cesare Prandelli’s side will be very difficult to beat and has wide range of options to test English resilience. Wayne Rooney has to get back to self and the rest team has to improve if they want to go past the Azzuri.
- Last but not the least, goal line controversy again makes a comeback in a major international tournament that too in a England game (‘Why always them ?’), although this time English fans will be happy as they enjoyed the fruits of the wrong decision. Marko Devic’s goal clearly crossed the line entirely but goal was never given. So again the hue and cry for goal line technology arises and it is to be seen when FIFA finally gives the green light with Sepp Blatter already declaring goal-line technology now a “necessity”.
“I don’t think it’s a case of us over-performing — we’re just performing to the level we’re capable of.To do well against the teams you come up against here — 16 fantastic teams — you need to play well.”
“ England only had a few set pieces. We had lots of shots on target, but we weren’t lucky.”