After watching yet another England match in which the national team failed to impress me England managed to beat Ukraine 1-0 in Donetsk despite the Ukrainians not being given a goal when the ball had clearly crossed the line. Yet reading the British tabloids this morning they mention the goal, but I have not read anywhere about goal-line technology being used. You can bet if it were England that was not allowed a goal it would be all over the newspapers today. In what has to be called a scrappy match with the Ukraine doing most of the attacking it was a poached goal by Wayne Rooney from a Steven Gerrard cross that the keeper failed to hold on to giving Rooney an easy header into the net sealing the victory for the visitors.
In the end though, it did not matter with France going down 2-0 to a Swedish side who had nothing to play for except pride, ending Frances 23 match unbeaten run under manager Laurent Blanc, and Sweden’s first win over a French team since October 1969 some 43 years ago.
With England Winning the group, it means that they now get an extra day of rest before taking on the Italians in Kiev on Sunday.
It will be interesting to see what Italy coach Cesare Prandelli does with volatile striker Mario Balotelli, who after scoring a goal late in Italy’s match with Ireland launched a verbal volley aimed at the coach forcing his teammates to cover his mouth with their hands. There is no denying the 21-year-old Manchester City striker is talented. The question for the coach must be can Italy risk playing him against England, a team capable of getting the volatile striker to lose control, and get himself sent off.
Runners up France have the misfortune to come up against the reigning Champions Spain in Donetsk Saturday night. While Spain are the overwhelming favourites to win the match a Dutch friend of mine who is a statistician for a well-known bookmakers predicts France to win the match, and the whole tournament as well. Today we have a day off from football until Portugal take on the Czech Republic in Warsaw Thursday night. They say you need a bit of luck to win these major tournaments, and so far the luck seems to be with England, so fingers crossed we can pull off another “Italian Job.”