France weather storm, England sink Sweden
KIEV (Reuters) - France brushed aside co-hosts Ukraine 2-0 in a Group D game suspended for 55 minutes by a violent thunderstorm and England fought back to beat Sweden 3-2 after more enthralling action at Euro 2012 on Friday.
Sweden became only the second team after Ireland to be eliminated before the final round of games, a testament to a tournament that is fast becoming a minor classic and has already eclipsed the often dull 2010 World Cup.
France proved far too quick for Ukraine and superb second- half goals from Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye made Laurent Blanc's side look like real contenders for the title as they lit up the Donbass Arena in Donetsk much like the lightning flashes had done at the start of the match.
England striker Andy Carroll powered home a superb header to give his side a 1-0 halftime lead before two defensive blunders, one an own goal, put Sweden 2-1 up.
Substitute Theo Walcott then took over, firing in a swerving shot from 20 meters before jinking to the goal-line and crossing from the right for Danny Welbeck to score with a clever backheel flick.
The win means England need only a point against Ukraine to qualify for the quarter-finals and France will also be guaranteed a place in the last eight if they draw with Sweden.
The Donetsk game may have surprised many with its quality given the conditions but the defeat stunned the Ukrainian fans who had been boosted by the opening win over Sweden and will now fret about their progress.
Apart from the continually excellent football through the last fortnight, a near torrent of bad news has hit the biggest multi-city sporting event ever held in Eastern Europe.
The disturbing underbelly of the tournament, being co-hosted with Poland, was again in focus with European soccer's governing body UEFA continuing its almost daily ritual of opening investigations and fining nations for crowd problems. Continued...