The 10 Best Moments from Day Twelve of Euro 2012


1. Tipster of the day

Iain Macintosh was in unstoppable tipping form yesterday: he predicted a 1-0 win for England over Ukraine and backed Wayne Rooney open the scoring. Mac the knife.

2. Unconvincing performance of the day (I)

England have had a funny old tournament. The laudably stolid opening performance against France could barely have been more different from the football-as-basketball spectacle that characterised the defeat of Sweden. With expectations predictably - if unjustifiedly - raised, many expected Roy Hodgson's side to brush a modest Ukraine outfit aside in Donetsk last night.

The reality was rather different. England struggled to find any kind of rhythm in the kind of first half snoozefest to which fans have become grudgingly accustomed. Things improved slightly in the second half, but it took the scrappiest of goals to secure all three points against the co-hosts. England must be praised for winning Group D, but they will need to muster rather more if they are to challenge in the knockout stages.

3. Rabble-rouser of the day

Annoyed by questions about his side's elimination, Ukraine boss Oleh Blokhin invited a journalist outside to settle a dispute. "If you're a man, go with me. One on one," the 59-year-old urged, brilliantly.

4. Irony of the day

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's stunning strike against France would have been worthy of winning any contest. Unfortunately for him, though, his critics will likely seize on the goal as further evidence that Zlatan only produces fireworks when the stakes are low. (If you are one of these people, incidentally, I suggest you do some more research.)

5. Fading hopes of the day

Before last night, Laurent Blanc would have been confident of guiding his France side to the semi-finals. Quietly effective in the 2-0 victory over Ukraine, Les Bleus appeared to be finding form at just the right time. Sure, Karim Benzema had yet to find the net, and the central defensive pairing of Adil Rami and Philippe Mexes had looked far from convincing, but the adoption of a proto-tiki-taka approach appeared to have done wonders for the French attack.

Against Sweden, however, Blanc's side came unstuck. The introduction of Yann M'Vila and Hatem Ben Arfa appeared to disrupt France's rhythm, while the question marks over the backline will be rewritten in bold today. The performance was only half of the problem, though: France's inability to scratch out a victory means that they face Spain in the quarter-finals. Sacre bleu.

6. Unconvincing performance of the day (II)

Wayne Rooney made his much-anticipated return to the England side, having been suspended for the Three Lions' opening two games of Euro 2012. While he did nod home the winning goal, his overall performance left a lot to be desired: his touch was often heavy, his passing was slightly wayward, and he linked up with Danny Welbeck all too infrequently. He'll be hoping for better against Italy.

7. Lookalike of the day

Little-known fact: Ukraine striker Artem Milevskiy moonlights as the lead singer of lad rock band Kasabian.

8. Puppy dog eyes of the day

Fit enough only for the bench in Donetsk, Andriy Shevchenko made a brief cameo up front for the Ukraine. He failed to threaten the England goal but did manage to make his mark, hacking down Ashley Young in brutal fashion right in front of the referee. The foul earnt tuts of disapproval in living rooms around the world, but Sheva's apologetic face saw him escape with a yellow card and a forgiving glance from the England winger. We can't stay mad at you, you rogue!

9. Final hurrah of the day

Seb Larsson played poorly in Sweden's losses to the Ukraine and England. Usually such a reliable supplier of crosses from the right, the Sunderland man failed to provide Markus Rosenberg, Johan Elmander et al with the service on which they could have thrived. He made up for his disappointing campaign against France, however, setting up Zlatan's opener before slamming home a goal of his own in the dying minutes. Better late than never.

10. Meme of the day