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Euro 2012 - England VS Sweden Recap

England hit back from the brink to down Sweden in Kiev

England never give their followers a smooth ride at major international tournaments and Friday night’s crucial Euro 2012 Group D clash with Sweden really was the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

All day fans were speculating as to who would get the nod in attack with Wayne Rooney still out fulfilling a ban and tongues really began wagging when Liverpool striker Andy Carroll was named on the team sheet.

The £35 million man didn’t get a look in against the French yet Roy Hodgson felt that Carroll was the perfect choice to lead the English line against the Swedes who have so often proved a nemesis for the Three Lions in the past.

But it took Carroll just 23 minutes to justify his selection as he latched on to a cross from the right to send a bullet header past the despairing Andreas Isaksson.

And England appeared to be cruising at half time, in full control of proceedings and with recent championship defeats to Sweden a seemingly distant memory.

Hodgson’s charges were trading at long odds on going into the second period however in typical England style matters were about to turn incredibly pear shaped.

Indeed, all of England’s good work from the first 45 minutes was undone by veteran Swede centre half Olof Mellberg who took advantage of some woeful defending to score twice before the hour mark, giving the Scandinavians a priceless lead and leaving England on the brink of yet more Euro misery.

But alas, a turning point and a small piece of tactical genius from the man in charge as Arsenal’s Theo Walcott was thrust into the equation.

Often heavily criticised for his somewhat awry performances for the national team, Walcott turned in a superb 30 minute shift which included a wonder strike from 25 yards to put England back on level terms.

Walcott’s pace was proving a real handful for the ageing Swedish back line and after more good work from the right flank, Danny Welbeck converted past Isaksson with a superb flick into the bottom corner of the net.

England toughed out the remaining exchanges to knock the Swedes out of the competition and put themselves level of four points with France who had earlier beaten co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk.

Heading into Euro 2012, expectations behind the Three Lions were at their lowest arguably since the mid 1980’s.

And despite all the initial furore of this success, both supporters and punters alike should avoid becoming disillusioned.

Hodgson’s charges scraped over the line against a poor side which will almost definitely be broken up ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.

England, on the whole, were dire – however credit has to be due for the way they fought back to land a result despite being well of their A game.

Unfortunately for England, even when their A game is brought to the table, it is unlikely to be enough to see off the tournament favourites but a quarter-final berth will be ensured should they draw or better with Ukraine on Tuesday night.