Tag: Ukraine

England Shoot Blanks In Kiev

Repeat the mantra after me. It’s a results-based business. It’s a results-based business. Roy Hodgson must be thanking his lucky stars that this is the case this evening after England misplaced, mistimed and misadventured their way to a goalless draw in Kiev this evening, a result that does leave their qualification for next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil – although how much reassurance this may offer England supporters who watch this match through the gaps between their fingers may come to depend upon whether a factory reset can be applied to this rag tag assortment of journeymen and ne’er-do-wells in order to get them to learn the basics of the game all over again within the next couple of months. It’s not about a sense of inflated expectation, this, by the way. You have to be pushing fifty years old in order to remember an England team that came some way towards being world class – and, before any angries of Tunbridge Wells start licking ther lips and sharpening their pencils, England were the fourth best team at the worst World Cup finals of all in 1990 and went through distinct phases of riding their luck on home ground in the European Championships six years later – so there aren’t many of us under a certain age who have had any just cause to get ideas above our...

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Euro 2012: Group D – The Final Day

The phrase “you make your own luck” is an overused one and it is perfectly possible to argue that luck, by its very nature, is random. There can be little doubt, however, that England rode theirs in Donetsk last night, scrambling their way to a single goal win which confirmed a slightly unlikely looking top place in their group with a little room to spare. Yet to glance at the final group table only partially tells the story of last nights match against Ukraine. This was a match from which England were highly fortunate to emerge with all three points. Overrun in midfield, the heart leapt to the mouth every time the co-hosts broke away, and this they frequently did with pace and no little verve. Yet all too often they ran dry on ideas when they came within sight of the England goal but despite this still created chances, including one which saw the ball cross the goal-line by several inches. Counter-attacking was the key to coach Oleg Blokhins plans to pick a way through an English defence that was set up with the minimum requirement of protecting the point that they needed to scrape through to the quarter-finals of the competition in mind. Every time they did so, they showed Englands lack of pace and control of the game in the middle third of the pitch up...

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Euro 2012: England 3-2 Sweden

There was a point yesterday when it seemed as if history was deemed to repeat itself yet again. As Olof Mellbergs second goal-ward shot on goal made Joe Harts net swell for the second time in ten minutes, the feeling that England were deflating to expectation was inescapable. We had been here before, of course. In the cauldron of noise that was the Rasunda in Stockholm twenty years ago, Sweden came from behind to knock England out of the competition at the first hurdle. Ten years later, they were back, coming from behind to force a draw in their first match of the World Cup finals. And in 2006 another late Swedish equaliser denied England three points in their final group match in Cologne. England, as we have been told approximately nine times every day since the draw for these finals was made, hadn’t managed to beat Sweden in a competitive match since 1968. The stars were aligning against England yet again. Somehow, though, this time England contrived somehow to pull an iron from the fire and conjured two goals – one a little lucky, one a tiny moment of improvised brilliance – to win the match and now go into their final group match against the co-hosts needing only a draw to progress to the quarter-finals of the competition. Qualification remains very much in the balance – they...

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Euro 2012: Ukraine 2-1 Sweden

So when did Kiev host the Olympics? I always thought that an Olympic Stadium had to have at least held one. Not that it matters, of course, as the stadium in question will be Shevchenko Stadium from now on, after two Andriy Shevchenko headers in seven second-half minutes clinched Ukraine’s storybook come-from-behind win over Sweden. The BBC studio pundits, with a bit of outside broadcast support from the increasingly polished Jake Humphrey, took about nine opportunities to crack the Shevchenko stadium joke, or variants thereof (Shevchenko fan park, Shevchenko beer etc…). Indeed, Gary Lineker had been tweeting it from the moment Shevchenko equalised. This was all rather unfair on Andriy Voronin; the “former Liverpool misfit” – as commentator Jonathan Pearce kindly styled him – was more often the driving force than the ex-Chelsea flop. I was half-right and half-very-wrong to write “time for Shevchenko to come off and Ukraine’s tempo to rise” after Sweden scored. However, until then, Shevchenko more resembled a veteran playing in, or on the peripheries of, his own testimonial than an international captain looking to inspire his people. “A sentimental pick,” I had noted before kick-off. For 35 minutes, this game threatened to be the first out-and-out stinker of the tournament. Shevchenko gave no hint whatsoever of the personal glories to come with a horrible finish to a pinpoint pass from Liverpool’s former misfit. And...

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Euro Moments: Ukraine

This mornings cartoon for the run-up to the European Championships from Dotmund features Ukraine, and in iconic striker in the middle distance. Don’t forget, you can see plenty more Dotmund artwork here, and you can read his trenchant opinions on just about everything here. You can download the Twohundredpercent Euro 2012 spreadsheet here (for Excel 2007), whilst a version that will be compatible with older versions of Excel is available here. You can follow Twohundredpercent on Twitter by clicking...

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