Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Ukraine 0 - 1 England

Last night we had the third of Englands three qualifying games. We all knew the maths, a point would see us through and a better result than France would see us top the group and play Italy rather than Spain in the quarter finals. Perhaps a true reflection of the relative strengths of France and England could be gauged when  an Italian friend wished me luck earlier and said that "All Italy was hoping for an England win".

When the match kicked off, it soon became clear what Roy Hodgson's game plan was. Sit back, restrict Ukraine to pot shots and then hope that the superior finishing powers of England would prevail. Thus it transpired. I wondered whether the injury to Frank Lampard was a belssing in disguise. Not only does Steven Gerard seem rejuvinated, but our luck has changed. Now it is England getting the benefit of dodgy decisions, when balls are clearly over the line. I have much sympathy for Ukraine. When Lampard "scored", there wasn't a bloke standing two yards away on the line with a flag. I wonder if that particular man will be featured in a specsavers ad. The match also saw the return of the Handsome Prince, Wayne Rooney. Adding to the feeling that Hodgson is a lucky manager, he scored a goal which even my mum could have scored, although to be fair to Rooney, he was in the right place at the right time, which is something beyond some of Englands former centre forwards. 

How good are England? Well they scored three goals against Sweden, France couldn't manage one. They beat Ukraine on their own turf and they got a score draw with France. They have also had credible shouts for penalties turned down in all games. Are France worse than we thought? I suspect that we will only really know after they face Spain. I think that may be the game of the Tournament. 

I am extremely pleased for Roy Hodgson. We shouldn't underestimate the job he's done. He had no time at all to prepare the squad and has only worked with a handful of players (those at Liverpool) previously. He has managed to fashion a well organised and disciplined side, who hold a tight line and fashion decent goalscoring chances against more than decent sides. Although Ukraine had  a lot of pressure, they only had one chance which you'd reasonably have expected a decent striker to finish. 

Perhaps the biggest lesson from yesterdays game wasn't for England or even the Ukraine. It was for Sepp Blatter, who has resisted goal line technology. His idiotic position is now completely exposed. How many more important games will have their outcome altered by this mans Luddite stupidity?

1 comment:

Morris Hickey said...

A scoreline that always reminds me of Argentina 0 - Geoff Hurst 1.