Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Avoiding Spain good news for England says Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin


Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin believes England have got off lightly by avoiding Spain in their Euro 2012 quarter-final.

A 1-0 win over the co-hosts for Roy Hodgson's men, coupled with France's surprising defeat to Sweden, means the Three Lions tackle Italy in the last eight in Kiev on Sunday.

It means they cannot meet the world champions until the final.

And, though Germany do also block the path to reaching Kiev on July 1, Blokhin feels England could benefit.

"It is 50-50 against Italy," he said.

"If England had played against Spain, it would have been much harder.

"This is not the same Italy that won the World Cup (in 2006), so let's see how it goes."

Blokhin's observations were overshadowed by an extraordinary argument with a local journalist over his side's performance.

The former Soviet Union star had been prickly before the game. However, that was nothing compared to what happened after his side had crashed out of the competition.

First Blokhin suggested the journalist should "come outside and have a man talk".

Then, when the conference had finished, Blokhin pointed to the journalist, and then to the door from which he made his exit.

The journalist declined the offer.

"Respect my job," he said.

"Let's go this one on one. You want to go with me? Let's have a 'man conversation'.

"You should respect that I played football. Did you play football? Respect my job and me.

"I won't allow anyone to criticise my team, about (Oleh) Gusev or (Andriy) Shevchenko. If you're a man, go with me. One on one."

Blokhin expressed his disappointment at Marko Devic's disallowed goal, which appeared to cross the line before it was cleared by John Terry.

It would have brought the hosts level with 30 minutes remaining and given them a chance of salvaging their status in the competition.

"There are five referees on the pitch and the ball is 50cm behind the goal-line. Why do we need five officials?" he said.

"They don't spot (Andy) Carroll's elbow, either? Or that (John) Terry fouls one of my players in the back?

"(Pierluigi) Collina told us that every movement with an elbow is a card, and every foul from behind is a yellow card. And yet where was that today?

"You write what you want - you've seen it. I don't want to criticise the referee."