EURO 2012 round-up
Wayne Rooney, returning from a two-match suspension, scored on 48 minutes to earn England a 1-0 success. But the Ukraine were denied an equaliser that clearly went over the line and was seen by everyone to be a goal apart from the officials.
France slipped up 2-0 to Sweden. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s spectacular volley on 54 minutes stunned Les Bleus – and Sebastian Larsson snatched an injury time goal for a flattering result.
Italy sneaked into the last eight, as runner-up to Spain in their group, but at the final whistle were still not guaranteed to progress. Despite the Azzurri’s laboured 2-0 triumph over the Republic of Ireland on Monday, the result between Spain and Croatia could have seen Cesare Prandelli’s Italy
But Spain, defending their crown in the Poland and Ukraine tournament, scraped past Croatia 1-0 to leave the Italian squad waiting nervously for the result – and asking their travelling fans for the Spain result.
World champions Spain left it late to score a win. Seville winger Jesus Navas grabbing a winner on 88 minutes to deliver the knockout blow to Croatia.
Vicente del Bosque, the Spanish coach, said: “There was a lack of clarity compared with other occasions; it was not a great game overall and this should concern us.
“We qualified and that’s what motivates us for the quarter-final because our philosophy and style of play are good.”
Prandelli, who masterminded Italy’s first victory of the year thanks to strikes from Antonio Cassano (36) and Mario Balotelli (90), enthused: “Heart mattered more than quality. We created a lot. I hope it will also be like this in the next match. We’ve already drawn against Spain, so if we play well we can take on anyone.”
Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s most expensive player, bagged a brace to send Portugal through at the expense of Holland on Sunday.
The Real Madrid attacking midfielder was denied by the woodwork three times but settled for a double strike with Portugal’s scintillating 2-1 triumph over out-of-sorts Holland.
Not only did captain Ronaldo heap pressure on Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk about his future, but made history as this was the first time that Holland have suffered three competitive games on the bounce.
Van Marwijk’s disastrous Euro 2012 showing kicked off with a shock 1-0 reversal to Denmark followed by a 2-1 defeat to archrivals Germany.
He admitted: “We lost all three matches, I’m responsible for that and I’m disappointed. We were bad and we don’t deserve to go through.”
After Holland’s impressive start, rewarded with Rafael van der Vaart’s curling goal
on 11 minutes, they faded badly with Ronaldo tormenting them and striking on 28 and 74 minutes.
Denmark, who fell 2-1 to Germany, were served further bad news as well as bowing out of the Euros on Sunday. Nicklas Bendtner has been banned for one match and fined £80,000 by Uefa for his goal celebration against Portugal when he pulled down his shorts to reveal the logo of a betting company on his underpants.
The Arsenal striker fumed: “I didn’t know I was breaking any rules. It’s just a pair of lucky boxer shorts that I used in the first game as well, and used before the tournament.”
Germany led on 19 minutes courtesy of Lukas Podolski, but in-form Dane Michael Krohn-Dehli headed home an equaliser on 25 minutes. But Bayern Leverkusen’s Lars Bender grabbed a deserved winner 10 minutes to seal Germany’s quarter-final berth.
Greece waltzed past Russia 1-0 on Saturday, thanks to Giorgos Karagounis’ goal in added first half time on Saturday – the resulted knocked out their illustrious opponents.
Although Greece were crowned shock Euro 2004 champions, they were widely regarded
as cannon fodder in the group. But they proved the critics wrong by holding co-hosts Poland to a score draw in the opening match of the tournament, followed by
a slender 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic before pulling off the shock of the tournament at the expense of Russia.
And Russia’s woes continued as they have been fined by Uefa for their supporters behaviour – including racism – during the draw with Poland in Warsaw last week.
The Czechs are the other team to book their place in the quarter-finals following Saturday’s 1-0 success over Poland. Petr Jiracek on target with a decisive 72nd minute goal in a scrappy encounter in Wroclaw.
Euro 2012 quarter-finals
21 June – Czech Republic v Portugal
22 June – Germany v Greece
23 June – Spain v France
24 June – England v Italy