Euro Flashback: Fortune favours England in Ukraine clash
Throughout Euro 2020, we have been looking back at classic games from previous tournaments. Today's featured match is England’s controversial 1-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine at Euro 2012.
Hosts in hot water
England were dealt a tricky hand at Euro 2012 after being drawn in a tough group containing France, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine.
But Oleg Blokhin’s men failed to set the group stage alight, despite being roared on by more than 60,000 vociferous supporters in Kiev during their opening matches.
They went into their final Group D match against the Three Lions a point behind England and France, having beaten Sweden but lost to Les Bleus.
Ukraine needed a win at the Olympic Stadium to progress.
Hodgson’s strong start
Chosen ahead of Harry Redknapp as Fabio Capello’s replacement, Roy Hodgson had been in the England dugout for less than a month when Euro 2012 kicked off.
Expectations were at an all-time low prior to the tournament but the Three Lions made a surprisingly strong start.
A Joleon Lescott header earned England a valuable point against France in their opener, while strikes from Andy Carroll, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck saw Hodgson's men come out on top in a ding-dong 3-2 victory over Sweden.
England’s hopes of going deep in the European Championship were boosted by Wayne Rooney’s return to the side.
The Manchester United forward had been suspended for the opening two matches but made an immediate impact in his first game of the tournament.
A 48th-minute cross from Steven Gerrard took two deflections inside the box, deceiving goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov and allowing Rooney to head home at the back post for what proved to be the winner.
That 1-0 scoreline does not tell the whole story of an encounter dominated for large periods by Ukraine.
The home side were particularly unfortunate not to be awarded an equaliser when Marko Devic’s second-half shot clearly crossed the line despite John Terry’s best efforts to scramble the ball away.
In scenes reminiscent of Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany at the 2010 World Cup, Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai was unmoved by the protests of Ukraine’s players and supporters.
England’s victory was enough to see them top the group, while Ukraine exited the competition rueing the decision that helped seal their fate.
But it was not long before the Three Lions joined them, with a penalty shootout against Italy in the quarter-finals eliminating Hodgson’s side.
England will be confident of going one stage further at Euro 2020 with a win on Saturday — but Ukraine would love to taste revenge after the events in Kiev nine years ago.