Ghost goal fury of Blokhin while Hodgson's happy to get rub of the green
22:55 GMT, 19 June 2012
England boss Roy Hodgson admitted his side rode their luck to seal a Euro 2012 quarter-final clash with Italy on Sunday.
Ukraine were furious they were not awarded an equaliser at the Donbass Arena when a 62nd-minute effort from Marko Devic crossed the line. John Terry hooked the ball to safety but TV replays confirmed the goal should have been awarded by the Hungarian assistant referee on the line, Istvan Vad.
The decision meant Wayne Rooney’s 48th-minute close-range header proved the winner and ensured England finished top of Group D ahead of France, who surprisingly lost 2-0 to already-eliminated Sweden.
Ghost goal: John Terry's defending was magnificent, but Marko Devic's shot crossed the line in Donetsk
Ghost goal: John Terry's defending was magnificent, but the ball crossed the line in Donetsk
Hodgson said: ‘This was an away game with a capital ‘‘A’’. There were 60,000 people in and only 4,000 brave England fans. When we needed a bit of luck, when the ball may have crossed the line, we got a bit of luck and went on to win the match.
‘If someone said we’d win the group I don’t think they’d have many takers. Most people didn’t think we’d get out of the group.’
Job done: Roy Hodgson congratulates Wayne Rooney as England top Group D thanks to the striker's goal (below)
Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin was so furious he offered a reporter to step outside during a chaotic press conference.
He said: ‘We scored a clean goal as the ball crossed the goal-line by over a metre, We had rotten luck tonight because the ball was not willing to go into the goal and England were lucky to score. What can I say There are five refs on the pitch and the ball was over the line. Why do we need five refs then’
Frustrated: Oleg Blokhin complains about the goal that never was
England captain Steven Gerrard reckoned England deserved their luck.
‘To be successful in these tournaments, with the quality of teams you have, you need a bit of luck along the way,’ he said.
‘Two years ago with Frank Lampard’s goal it didn’t go our way — if you keep fighting and stick at it you earn that bit of luck.’
Pressure: England rode their luck at times but took all three points
Hodgson, who had just two matches in charge before the start of the tournament, stressed his team were a work in progress.
‘This is a fledgling team as far as I’m concerned,’ he said. ‘But we’re working at our game. Showing composure on the ball in attacking areas is always the most difficult part. That’s where you need your Wayne Rooneys.
‘This game will be good for him. He played well, worked hard and could have had several other goals. On the counter we were dangerous enough, but we could have been more dangerous.’
Comeback: Rooney made a welcome return to football following his ban
Celebration: Rooney pretends to spray his hair
Rooney said: ‘Obviously I was delighted with the win and to score. I haven’t scored at a major tournament for a while (since 2004) so it was nice to get a goal which won us the game. We stuck in well at times against a difficult crowd and overall we deserved the win.’
Asked how he felt about Italy in the next round, Rooney was more eager to stress his own side’s qualities.
‘I said before it doesn’t matter (who the quarter-final opponents are). The main thing was to get through the group and to finish top,’ he added. ‘We’ve worked hard, done a lot of tactical play in training. We’re difficult to beat and I don’t think any team will fancy playing us.’
And he explained his bizarre, hair-spraying goal celebration: 'I used Andy Carroll's hair product and before the game he asked me to do it if I scored – and so I did it.'
believes his side are slowly hitting form at the right time, adding:
‘It was a difficult group and the idea was to try and win it. No-one
believed in us at the start but we’re gaining momentum at the right
Passion: Steven Gerrard says his side are peaking at just the right time
Heart on his sleeve: Gerrard
‘I don’t think tonight’s performance was fantastic, but we stuck together, got the job done and won 1-0 against a good team.
‘We’ve been criticised in the past maybe for not turning up, under-performing and we can take that, we’re man enough. But you saw a reaction. When you get criticised it’s not nice and you have to react by playing better and I think that’s what we did.’
Going close: Ashley Cole almost opened his England account
Gerrard denied the idea England would be overjoyed at playing Italy instead of world and European champions Spain.
‘Italy are next, they’ve got match-winners and we have to give them respect,’ he added.
Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini will miss the quarter-final after suffering a thigh injury.