Wayne worth the wait as England book themselves quarter final place against Italy

England 1 Ukraine 0

Wayne Rooney lived up to top billing in Donetsk as he scored the goal which sent England into a Euro 2012 quarter-final meeting with Italy in Kiev on Sunday.

It was not quite the equal of Pele's sublime header in the 1970 World Cup final - but after comparing his star man to the brilliant Brazilian, manager Roy Hodgson would have been delighted nonetheless.

In truth, having already failed to take a glaring first-half chance, Rooney could not miss this one as Ukraine keeper Andriy Pyatov failed to gather a dangerous low cross from Steven Gerrard which took two deflections.

From barely a yard, Rooney thus scored his 29th England goal, one behind Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney and Alan Shearer, who are joint fifth in the all-time list.

Now the Three Lions must hope their talisman quickly joins them as the scent of glory, absent for so long, is now in English nostrils, even if the path is barred not just by Italy, but Germany as well.

Not that England strolled through as some had suggested. The journey to victory had its uncomfortable moments, not least the controversy that once again erupted over a ball that crossed the line but none of the officials saw.

Instead of starting on the front foot, as Hodgson suggested, England found themselves penned back by a relentless tide of Ukraine attacks.

The general relief that greeted Andriy Shevchenko's absence might not have been so obvious if the talents of Serbian-born Marko Devic were better known.

Devic was at the centre of most Ukraine attacks, had a goalbound shot blocked by Scott Parker and triggering the move that ended with Andriy Yarmolenko stepping inside the box and forcing a low save out of Joe Hart.

Oleh Gusev shot over after being gifted possession by Ashley Young and in the final minutes of the opening period Yarmolenko slalomed his way towards the England goal Ricky Villa style, only for Joleon Lescott to make a very late intervention.

Throughout this, England had been urged to get themselves higher up the pitch by Hodgson's coaching staff, Gary Neville particularly agitated by the failing.

Yet all the angst would have been removed had Rooney taken his golden opportunity.

For all Hodgson's assurances to the contrary in recent days, it was evident that after just 37 minutes' action in 44 days Rooney was lacking sharpness.

The hoped for combination with Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck never materialised and his passing went astray too often.

This would have been forgiven if Rooney had turned Young's deep cross into the net.

It had been a brilliant move until final execution, started by John Terry's superb crossfield pass to the left touchline.

Young, producing his most effective performance of the tournament to date, delivered the ball exactly where Rooney would have asked given he had intelligently peeled away from his marker. Level with the far post, the striker tried to glance it home and sent it bouncing wide.

In order to make the contribution Hodgson hoped for, it was evident Rooney required a bit of assistance.

Three minutes after the restart Pyatov failed to clear one of those teasing Gerrard crosses that have been a hallmark of his time in Ukraine. From roughly a yard, Rooney nodded in.

The band that had been banned on their last visit to Donetsk filled the noise vacuum created by the silencing of their hosts and when the big screens at either end of the stadium flashed up news of Sweden's goal in Kiev a few minutes later, English cheers went up once more.

They would have been silenced had the goal-line technology due to be voted on by FIFA next month already been installed.

But, just as Fabio Capello cursed Frank Lampard's goal not being awarded in Bloemfontein two years ago, so Ukraine coach Oleh Blokhin now has reason to lament.

To the naked eye, in real time, sympathy has to be afforded to the officials as John Terry hacked Devic's half-blocked shot away.

To them it can't have looked over the line. Within 60 seconds, all those millions watching around the world on TV knew it was, the fans in the stadium only left in the dark because the wise decision was taken not to show it to them again.

Shevchenko was introduced for one last hurrah but it was Yevhen Konoplyanka who brought an excellent save out of Hart with a dipping long-range effort.

Welbeck and Rooney were replaced as the clock ran down, whilst Gerrard and Ashley Cole also picked up bookings which may yet come back and haunt them.

Not that such matters should bother them too much tonight.

 

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home