Ukraine Vs. England, Euro 2012: Final Score, England Progress With 1-0 Win After Bitty Performance

Let's get it out of the way early on, shall we? In reverse chronological order: Yes, it was over the line. It's not entirely clear what the fifth official was doing, but for a man with more-or-less one job, he proved spectacularly bad at it.

That means, of course, that it wasn't particularly good defending from John Terry, either. Applause for being lucky is an empty business, and desperate goal-line clearances from behind the line are failures by definition. Rewinding further, it was Terry who was caught flat-footed under the long ball as the move began; for all his contortions, he was not quite good enough, twice.

But rewinding further still, as the ball arced into the England half, Artem Milevskiy -- who had a busy, bustling game -- was slightly but clearly offside. So the whole business is academic anyway, and we can mercifully leave the great goal-line technology debate for another day. No talk of karma, no mentions of Germany 2010 or Germany 1966, no mess, no fuss, no harm, no foul? Right? Please?

Mind you, there was precious little else to talk about. One of the least memorable first halves in history came and went with only a rust-laden Wayne Rooney miss to show for it. Rooney, whose return was threatening to rev up the English media hype generators, looked exactly as you'd expect a man playing his first competitive game for five weeks to look: slightly off the pace, a touch over-elaborate at some moments, a trifle lax at others. But there were also moments of neat interplay with Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young, particularly in the second half, and both he and his manager will have been glad to get 86 minutes into his legs.

And of course, there was Rooney's goal, perhaps the easiest of his career. Credit must go to Steven Gerrard, who slipped a tackle out wide and slapped in a low, hard cross along the six-yard line. A couple of deflections did just enough to distract Andriy Pyatov, who kneed it limply into Rooney's path, and England were on top of the group.

Ukraine had been the slicker team in the first half, targeting England's defensively vulnerable left flank through the slippery Andriy Yarmolenko and the overlapping Oleh Husyev, a winger in a fullback's position and a striker's No. 9 shirt. Marko Dević was tidy throughout, and Milevskiy missed a simple header on the hour after a cross from the left found him inexplicably alone on the six-yard-line. Perhaps he was surprised by the space, because he carefully guided his header over Joe Hart's crossbar. Again, he was slightly offside; again, the flag stayed down. It wasn't a great game for the officials.

On for the last 20 minutes came Andriy Shevchenko, winning what will in all probability be his last cap for his country. The legendary striker -- who credited the prospect of this tournament for extending his career -- was clearly inhibited by the inconvenient knee fluid that kept him from the starting lineup, and his only real contribution of note was a frustrated chop on Ashley Young. And as the game wound down, only a vicious, swerving, 25-yard knuckleball from Yevhen Konoplyanka threatened to discombobulate England; Hart, who hadn't been overworked at any stage, stuck out an arm, and Joleon Lescott was alert enough to sweep up.

Out go Ukraine, who were ultimately unable to glean enough chances from their tidy passing and tricky wingmen to bother England or France. However, that Shevchenko-inspired victory over Sweden will live long in the memory of football fans given to sentiment (that's all of you). England progress and, thanks to a demob-happy Sweden and insipid France, will face Italy in the quarterfinals. One suspects that Cesare Prandelli's men will prove a stiffer test, both for England's luck and for Roy Hodgson's rigid banks of four.

You can find our previous coverage of both of Tuesday's games in our Euro 2012, Group D Finale StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.