Related Betting Tips
Euro 2012 - Group D Matchday 3 Recap

England and France through to quarter-finals as Euro 2012 group stage reaches conclusion

A simple tap in from Wayne Rooney gave England a somewhat fortunate victory over Ukraine as the co-hosts exited the competition.

And France’s shock defeat at the hands of already eliminated Sweden means that the Three Lions qualified for the quarter-finals as group leaders, swerving World and European champions Spain who will now face Les Bleus in Donetsk on Saturday.

The two nations met at the same stage of the tournament twelve years ago which resulted in a 2-1 success for the French en route to being crowned kings of the continent.

And they also got the better of the Iberians six years ago in the second phase of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, claiming an outstanding 3-1 win which sparked a superb run all the way to the final in Munich.

Nevertheless, Spain should have considerably less to worry about this time around – that is if France’s latest performance is anything to go by at least.

Laurent Blanc’s men sat pretty on four points after the first two group fixtures and looked well set to qualify as group winners going into their clash with Sweden, who had arguably been a little unfortunate to have lost their first two matches after holding a lead against both Ukraine and England.

But things never really followed script in Kiev as France struggled to make any real impact during a bleak first 45 minutes.

And after the break, it was Sweden who came out firing, clearly galvanised by their bad luck to date and determination to play for pride.

A moment of sheer brilliance from Zlatan Ibrahimovic put the Scandinavians in front – the AC Milan hitman lashed in a fierce volley from just outside the area following good work down the right flank from veteran Christian Wilhelmsson.

And France’s misery was to be compounded ten minutes from time as Sebastian Larsson doubled Sweden’s advantage, much to the delight of their departing supporters and England fans to boot.

Spain will be heavy favourites to gain revenge over France in the last eight and could still face England later in the championship.

But for that to happen, England must make it all the way to the final which seems a tall order based on the level of quality which they have displayed so far this summer.

Italy are up next for Roy Hodgson’s charges who evidently hold a tight bond and togetherness within the dressing room.

Significant improvement will be required nonetheless if they are to prevail over the Azzurri who are likely to get stronger now that the championship has reached the knockout phase.

And a newly established expectation on England’s shoulders could well play a vital role from here on in.

It will certainly be interesting to see whether Rooney and co can make the step up to be true challengers or whether they will simply be outplayed by Italy as they were when up against Germany at the World Cup two years ago.