England Rallies Past Sweden at Euro 2012 as France Beats Ukraine
Danny Welbeck scored the winning goal in the 78th minute last night at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium as England rallied from a 2-1 second-half deficit. Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye scored three minutes apart for France in Donetsk in a game suspended in the first half because of bad weather.
“We came back well,” Welbeck said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. “When we went behind we still had the belief and we stuck together.”
England and France lead the group with four points, Ukraine has three and Sweden, which was eliminated with the loss, has none. England and Ukraine meet in their final group match in three days, while France plays Sweden. The top two teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals.
The first two places in the quarterfinals will be filled today when the Czech Republic meets co-host Poland and Greece faces Russia in the final round of games in Group A.
In Kiev, England coach Roy Hodgson elected to pick 6-foot-3 (1.90-meter) striker Andy Carroll in place of Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain to take advantage of Sweden’s recent vulnerability to aerial balls. The Scandinavians had conceded six headed goals in their previous six games.
England Goes Ahead
The selection proved a good one when Carroll powered in a header off Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard’s 45-meter cross in the 23rd minute.
Sweden then scored twice early in the second half off free kicks. England defender Glen Johnson turned the ball into his own net in the 49th minute after goalkeeper Joe Hart saved Olof Mellberg’s shot. Ten minutes later, Mellberg rose unchallenged to head in Sebastien Larsson’s free kick for a 2-1 lead.
Theo Walcott, brought on in the second half in place of James Milner, tied the game in the 64th minute with a shot from the edge of the area which wrong-footed goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson. The Arsenal winger then sent a cross which Welbeck flicked past Isaksson with 12 minutes left for the winning goal.
“I wouldn’t say I was the game changer,” Walcott said on UEFA’s website. “I was disappointed not to be starting but it is good to come off the bench and make an impact.”
France and Ukraine had played only four minutes at Donbass Arena when referee Bjorn Kuipers pulled the players off the field because of lightning and heavy rain. After a delay of 55 minutes, the match resumed at 8 p.m. local time.
“When the game was suspended, our fear was that we wouldn’t get to play it,” French coach Laurent Blanc said on UEFA’s website. “The stadium staff responded well and everything went how it should.”
France took the lead in the 53rd minute as Karim Benzema passed to Menez, who took one touch in the area and fired a shot into the bottom right corner.
Benzema set up the second goal three minutes later with a pass to Cabaye, who controlled it just inside the area and stuck a left-footed shot past Piatov.
The victory ended France’s national-record eight-match winless run in tournaments, dating back to a 1-0 win over Portugal in the 2006 World Cup semifinals.
“Six years in major competitions and to not win a game is a long time,” Blanc said. “I hope our next win isn’t in six years. If it is, then I won’t be here to talk about it because I’ll have been fired long before.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Bob Bensch in London at firstname.lastname@example.org; Tariq Panja at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev via the London newsroom at