Ukraine were the architects of their own elimination as they failed to utilise the many chances they created in their Group D tie to go down 0 – 1 to England in Donetsk, helping the Three Lions sail through as group leaders while they joined co hosts Poland out of the tournament.
The hosts wasted many opportunities to go ahead in the first half as England, who welcomed back Wayne Rooney after a two match ban failed to muster clear cut chances and Ukrainians’ dismay could be explained by the expression on their faces as they walked off for the break.
Rooney missed the best chance of the first half for England after Ashley Young picked him out with a fine cross that he met with a free header, beating the host nation’s defence’s offside trap but couldn’t get enough contact on the ball and it drifted wide.
The Manchester United forward however made amends three minutes after the restart with the easiest of headers after the Ukraine keeper Andriy Pyatov failed to hold on to a Steven Gerrard cross from the right flank.
England were then almost pegged back in the 61st minute after a swift counter attack by the hosts ended in a goal line clearance by John Terry amid protestations by the Ukrainians that the ball had crossed the line, which television replays indeed showed was the case.
England thus advanced to the quarter finals where they will face the stern test of Italy, who finished second in Group C.