Four teams have yet to play their first games of Euro 2012, but that changes today when Group D finally takes the field. I say finally because our England lean has kept the Three Lions on our radars throughout the weekend. Now, England’s openers with France is finally here.
That game kicks off at noon Eastern, with co-hosts Ukraine opening against Sweden in Kiev at 2:45 p.m. Eastern. For most, seeing those teams on the schedule will mean one thing: Zlatan Ibrahimovic is taking center stage. The Milan icon will be orchestrating Sweden’s attack opposite a former Milan icon, Andriy Shevchenko.
We’ll be updating you on the day’s significant events below. In the interim, here’s some pre-match reading:
- PST’s Euro 2012 home
- Sunday’s soundtrack: Previewing today’s matches – Side 1, Side 2
- Yesterday’s recaps: What happened | What it means
- Also from yesterday: Spain 1-1 Italy | Ireland 1-3 Croatia | As it happened
- There was also the crew on Twitter ([SD], [RF], [ND], [JP])
- And the coverage at NBC Sports.
And now that you’re through skipping over the bullets, here’s Monday’s action:
(All times Eastern)
1640 – Ukraine 2-1 Sweden, Final – And Ukraine goes top of Group D with a fairytale opening, their 35-year-old captain scoring twice as the co-hosts down Sweden.
1638 – Ukraine 2-1 Sweden – Another great chance for Sweden as a ball is chipped into the box for Mellberg, who volleys it meekly over.
1635 – Ukraine 2-1 Sweden – Elmander misses a golden chance to equalizer. Ibrahimovic chips a ball over the defense the bounces nicely 10 yards out. Elmander and Wilhemsson both are coming onto it, but Elmander takes it and blasts it wide or the left post. That should have been Sweden’s second.
1625 – Ukraine 2-1 Sweden – Sweden has used their three subs, with Wilhelmsson and Elmander coming on some time ago (for Rosenberg and Larsson). They’re providing Sweden with a little boost over this last period of the game, though Ukraine’s now going to respond. Andriy Shevchenko’s off Artem Milevskiy’s on.
1620 – Ukraine 2-1 Sweden – Somebody should tell the Swede they need a goal. Since Ukraine took the lead, this match has fallen flat. Ukraine’s got the score they want, and Sweden doesn’t seem willing to take it from them. There’s 15 minutes left, but unless Sweden wakes up, they’re going to pss pretty …
Just as I type, a chip to Ibra is flicked to Elmander, who knocks is back to Ibra for a shot whose thump rings through the arena. Pyatov saves.
1608 – Ukraine 2-1 Sweden – Anders Svensson’s come on for Ola Toivonen, who did nothing on the left today. At the same time, that takes a goal scoring option off. Svensson will slot along side Kim Kallstrom. Elm goes out left.
1606 – Ukraine 2-1 Sweden – Shevchenko again! Nazarenko whips in a near post corner – pretty typical stuff – and Shevchenko only has to burst from the middle of the six to lose Ibrahimovic, get to the ball, and hammer it home.
1600 – Ukraine 1-1 Sweden – Shevchenko! The old man get his goal! In his country’s opening game on home soil. Oleh Gusev carries the ball into attack, draws the left back and lays it off for Andriy Yarmolenko. He moves the ball onto his left, chips to the edge of the six where Shevchenko beats Olof Mellberg, heading the ball into the right of net. It’s all even.
1557 – Ukraine 0-1 Sweden – Ibrahimovic has his team in front. Sweden breaks through their right as a Ukraine player lies on the ground. Nobody slows up, and a cross goes far post. Andriy Yarmolenko’s clearing header clears nothing, allowed Kim Kallstrom to find Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the edge of the six for a redirected opener.
1551 – Ukraine 0-0 Sweden – We’re back, Ukraine kick off and going right to left.
1537 – Ukraine 0-0 Sweden – The half closes with Ukraine having had the better of the last 15 minutes, using their width to start shifting around a decently organized but still vulnerable Sweden defense. Ibrahimovic may not have touched the ball in the last 10 minutes, but Sweden gets to half time.
1527 – Ukraine 0-0 Sweden – Ibrahimovic has gone off the post. A cross from Mikael Lustig finds Ibra, having beaten Taras Mikhalik. From the left, Ibra puts it back across goal, hitting the post.
The announcer I’m listening to uses this as an example of Ibra’s failings. Yes, because nobody ever puts a header off a post.
1524 – Ukraine 0-0 Sweden – The game has opened up in the last coulpe of seconds. Andrei Voronin put a swerving shot on Andreas Isaksson from 23 yards. Sweden push back the other direction before Yevhhen Konoplyanka has a crack. A turnover by Sweden leaves to a Andriy Shevchenko chance, with the rebound calling for Andriy Yarmolenko, whose shot is blocked out for a corner. Ukraine looking very dangerous now that they’re playing a little more direct, pulling the trigger on some shots from distance.
1520 – Ukraine 0-0 Sweden – As UEFA just reminded us, we’re still without a shot on target 33 minutes into this match.
1515 – Ukraine 0-0 Sweden – Sweden continues to being Zlatan Ibrahimovic into the game, perhaps deferring to him too much. On one counterattack Seb Larsson had a chance to hit Markus Rosenberg wide left yet decided to roll a safe ball to Ibra. Ukraine’s most threatening moments have come trying to play passes over Sweden’s line for Andriy Shevchenko and Andrei Vorinin.
1504 – Ukraine 0-0 Sweden – And just as I say that, Ibrahimovic makes his first mark on the match. He does left of the area to claim a ball, easily gets away from Mikhalik and puts a dangerous ball into the six. Pyatov coe to punch but whiffs a bit. Seb Larsson’s there but his back’s to goal. He can’t turn quickly enough.
1503 – Ukraine 0-0 Sweden – Fifteen minutes in, and there’s not much to tell. Neither team has meaningfully tested the other, though Ukraine seems the lost likely to do so.
1447 – Ukraine 0-0 Sweden – We’re off, and this is going to be confusing. Ukraine’s wearing yellow.
1443 – Anthems are being played. Ukraine is in full voice supporting their team. Kickoff’s moments away.
1429 – Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine finish the day’s action. Here are the lineups:
Sweden: Isaksson, Lustig, Mellberg, Granqvist, M. Olsson, Elm, Larsson, Källström, Ibrahimović, Toivonen, Rosenberg SUBS: Wiland, Hansson, J. Olsson, Antonsson, Safari, Svensson, Wernbloom, Holmén, Bajrami, Wilhelmsson, Elmander, Hysén.
Ukraine: Pyatov, Selin, Khacheridi, Mikhalik, Tymoshchuk, Gusev, Yarmolenko, Nazarenko, Konoplyanka, Shevchenko, Voronin SUBS: Koval, Goryainov, Kucher, Shevchuk, Rakitskiy, Butko, Garmash, Aliyev, Rotan, Milevskiy, Seleznyov, Dević.
Erik Hamrén goes with the defense he used in the last friendly, having shaken up his four. Markus Rosenberg gets the start up top in place of Johan Elmander.
For Ukraine, Andriy Shevchenko starts along with Andrei Voronin, two names English Premier League fans will be very familiar with. Like every other team in the tournament, Ukraine’s biggest questions are at the back.
1350 – France 1-1 England, Final – England’s defending with nine at the end, and a long shot from Karim Benzema (handled by Hart) ends the match. A Wayne Rooney-less England have to be happy with the result, though France won’t be too disappointed, either.
When you look back on the game and examine the numbers, you wonder if France won’t regret not getting three. England didn’t have a lot of answers for Samir Naris and Franck Ribery, but France never really played with any urgency. Ultimately, they had a 61-39 possession advantage, outshot England 19-3 (15-1 shots on target), but were rightly drawn.
1347 – France 1-1 England – Theo Walcott is coming on. Danny Welbeck is coming off.
1342 – France 1-1 England – After forcing another corner, Frnace makes two chances. Hatem Ben Arfa and Marvin Martin are on. Yoann Cabaye and Florent Malouda are off. Something that’s happened over the last five minutes: Franck Ribery is coming in from the left more. For most of the match, it’s been Nasri playing behind Benzema in the attacking phase, but he seems to be staying right a little more. Ribery, who still has plenty of energy, just forced a corner by running at Joleon Lescott.
1336 – France 1-1 England – Hodgson makes his first change, bringing on Jordan Henderson for Scott Parker. England fans may not like that, but the central midfield was looking ragged for England. Granted, Gerrard seems to be the player having the most trouble maintaining his positioning, but there was some speculation Parker’s Achilles isn’t 100 percent. Perhaps that’s motivated the move.
France has just forced two corners, with Yoann Cabaye nearly putting a hard shot on goal (where it not for a partial block from Welbeck). England hasn’t found that second win, they’re relying more on Oxlade-Chamberlain to get them into attack (and playing some long balls), and you can’t help but wonder whether a draw is looking pretty good.
But now Ox is also out. Jermaine Defoe is on.
1325 – France 1-1 England – Another offside call against England. Augmenting the previous update, Gerrard and Parket, in particular, seem to be fading.
1321 – France 1-1 England – England’s starting to look a little tired. France is holding a lot of the possession (after England’s early second half spell), and the effort getting back into the defensive shape isn’t the same for England. When France runs at people (be it Ribery, Evra, Nasri), the defense seems a step slower reacting. Benzema just put a thumping shot on Hart (saved), but we’ll have to see where this is going. Perhaps they just need a second wind.
1310 – France 1-1 England – >England has their first prolonged spell of possession, holding the ball for well over a minute before a long ball from Lescott’s met with a whistle. Ashley Young is offside for the third time tonight.
1402 – France 1-1 England – Whistle blows. No changes for either side.
1302 – France 1-1 England, Halftime – Teams are coming back out. Stats: Possession: France 58-42; Shots: France 8-2; Shots on goal: France 6-1.
1247 – France 1-1 England, Halftime – Intermission, and the score is fair, even if the numbers say France controlled the period. By halftime, France was certainly on the front foot, but this is the type of game England would have been happy with before the opening whistle. Roy Hodgson needs to find one other way to get his team into attack if three points is a possibility, but for now, England’s given a good account of themselves.
1240 – France 1-1 England – England’s midfield is too deep and can’t get out to contest a Samir Nasri shot from 20 yards out. As Steven Gerrard is trying, he may have screened Joe Hart, because this isn’t a shot that normally gets past the Manchester City `keeper. Near post, hard but savable shot, it’s in the back of the net. Nasri, one of France’s best players thus far, has equalized.
1236 – France 0-1 England – France nearly pulls it back. Dead ball on their right flank sees Nasri whip a cross to just short of the penalty sopt. Alou Diarra heads a powerful shot on goal, but Joe Hart blocks it up. It falls to Diarra who, rushed, puts it wide. England stays in front.
1231 – France 0-1 England – Steve Gerrard, from a dead ball, puts a ball in from the right to the middle fo the six, and Joleon Lescott puts it home. It’s 1-0.
A number of France errors led to a goal that was very preventable. Patrice Evra’s cheap foul gave up the kick. Lescott was able to separate himself too easily from Alou Diarra, who shouldn’t have had the assignment of marking Lescott. The ball was too close to goal not to be caught – the cross floated enough for Lloris to come get it. All of those errors combined to give England the lead.
1223 – France 0-0 England – Danny Welbeck is down, getting some treatment. He had an ankle problem at the beginning of camp, but he seems fine now. The match has settled in as you’ expect it. England’s letting France come onto them (particularly in the middle), and the pressure on France comes in those first moments of transition. We saw Steven Gerrard hit a nice long ball for Young in the 14th minute. That was encouraging for England. France … England’s going to let them shoot from 22-24 yards all day. Beyond that, Nasri seems like he’ll have to create something.
1216 – France 0-0 England – England just generated their first chance of the match, and James Milner should have scored. Ashley Young has time on the ball 30 yards out, six yards from the defense. Milner makes a run in from the right, and Patrice Evra never breaks out of a trot. A through ball puts Milner in, Hugo Lloris takes a bad angle, and one touch from the England winger leaves him with an empty net. His legs fail him, though, and he’s left lunging for a ball he puts into the outside of the side netting. Ruined chance.
1211 – France 0-0 England – France has forced a couple of corner kicks, and thanks to a nice diagonal pass from Yoann Cabaye, have generated the one moment of danger. France looks to be the better side thus far and are holding much more of the ball. Bringing Samir Nasri in from the right, they have a lot of attackers toward the center and left, creating a numbers problem for England.
1201 – Countdown is done and they’ve kicked off in a Donetsk that’s said to be very warm. England’s moving from right to left.
1155 – Teams are finally walking out on the field in Donetsk in that beautiful new stadium. England’s in all whit. France wears blue. Next update will be at kickoff.
1124 – Your lineups for England-France:
England: Hart, Johnson, Cole, Terry, Lescott, Gerrard, Young, Milner, Parker, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck SUBS: Green, Butland, Baines, Jones, Jagielka, Walcott, Henderson, Downing, Carroll, Defoe.
France: Lloris, Debuchy, Evra, Rami, Mexès, Cabaye, Ribéry, Nasri, Malouda, Diarra, Benzema SUBS: Mandanda, Carrasso, Réveillère, Koscielny, Clichy, Valbuena, Matuidi, Ménez, M’Vila, Martin, Ben Arfa, Giroud.
Big news? As Steve told you about earlier, Ox starts for England. It’s not entirely unpredictable given he started against Belgium. It just runs counter to our image of Roy Hodgson.
For France, no surprises.
My picks for today: 2-1 for France, though I don’t feel great about that one, and Sweden by the same score.
ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.