Mixture of luck and Rooney puts England through


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The Independent Online

When it comes to the never-ending debate about goalline technology and the painfully slow pace of its implementation at least England can now consider the debt to them paid in full.

That goal scored by Frank Lampard in Bloemfontein at the World Cup finals two years ago against Germany that crossed the line but was not given by the referee now has an equally controversial bedfellow in the history of the national team. Except this one was scored last night by Ukraine's Marko Devic and was denied to the host nation by a helpless referee and a goalline assistant who, quite frankly, should have gone to Specsavers.

Replays of Devic's shot parried by Joe Hart on 62 minutes and scooped out by John Terry showed that it clearly crossed the line. It would have been a richly deserved equaliser for Ukraine and who knows how the game might have changed from there? But in the end it was left to the Ukrainians to rant about a gross injustice. Michel Platini, the Uefa president, who has resisted the introduction of technology, must be so proud.

As for England, it was, in the first half especially, a dreadfully nervous performance that was hardly settled by Wayne Rooney's goal two minutes after half-time. But with seven points and top of the group already one feels that Roy Hodgson has satisfied the most basic requirements asked of him and – who knows? – his team could even go one better and beat Italy.

Rooney's 29th international goal was by no means the most difficult to execute but it was one of the most valuable. His first tournament goal since Euro 2004 was steered in with his head at the back-post after fine work from Steven Gerrard on the right side. A recycled corner had fallen to the England captain and he powered past Yevhen Selin before his cross took a double deflection on its way to squirming past the goalkeeper on its way to Rooney who was unmarked.

Early in the move forward for Ukraine's goal-that-never-was, Artem Milevskiy who played in Devic was offside and not penalised. However, when the ball arrived via Milevskiy at the feet of Devic his subsequent shot clearly crossed the line.

Theo Walcott and Andy Carroll came on in the final stages as England kept Ukraine at bay. Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin was left to berate the pitchside Uefa officials. Englishmen can at least say they know his pain.