By Fitzgerald Cecilio

Donetsk, Ukraine

Wayne Rooney played hero for England, scoring the game-winning goal to defeat co-host Ukraine, 1-0, in Group D of the European Championship 2012 at Donbass Arena.

Rooney booted in a low cross from Steven Gerrard past goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov in the 48th minute to help England avoid a quarterfinal clash against defending champion Spain.

That daunting task now belongs to France after losing to Sweden, 2-0, in another Group D match. England will face Italy in the knockout stage on Sunday while the French square off with the Spaniards on Saturday.

England topped Group D with seven points while France finished the qualifying with four points, just one ahead of Sweden and Ukraine.

Rooney, who returned from a two-game suspension due to a red card he received against Montenegro last November, scored his first goal in a major tournament and his 29th international goal overall.

The Ukrainians were aggressive for most parts of the game, taking possession of the ball for 57 percent and having more attempts than the English, 16-10.

Controversy erupted in the 62nd minute after the referee and his assistant missed a goal by Ukraine's Marko Devic. Video replays showed that Devic's looping shot crossed the line before it was hooked clear by John Terry.

"I was sad because the ball was in the goal by one meter," Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin told The Ukrainians tried to appeal but no goal was given.

A goal would have been scored if the proposed goal-line technology was in place. UEFA President Michel Platini has been opposing the use of such technology in games.

Meanwhile, captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on a brilliant bicycle kick in the 54th minute to give Sweden the lead and Sebastian Larsson added a second in the final minute of normal time.

The victory handed the Swedes their first points of the group stage and their first win over France in almost 43 years dating back to October 1969.

"We came upon a team that was far stronger than us. It is up to us to show another side to our game and to prove that we can go far in this competition," midfielder Yann M'Vila said, referring to France's upcoming game against Spain.


With Euro 2012's group stage well and truly over, all eyes now turn to the all-important quarter-final knock-out matches. The eight teams to qualify for the next round: Spain who play France, Italy who meet England, Germany who'll play against Greece and finally Czech Republic who'll meet Portugal


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