Rooney’s return should inspire Three Lions to another victory

ENGLAND
UKRAINE
7.45pm ITV 1

ENGLAND have one foot in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 and Roy Hodgson’s men should step in to the last eight with only a point required against Ukraine this evening, especially with Wayne Rooney returning to the side.

Regular readers will know that I’ve been down on England’s chances from the start, but they have done well to take four points from the opening two games. However, although they should make it to the second round, I still don’t think it will be much of an extended stay beyond that.

The Three Lions are 11/10 favourites with Coral for this contest, and that looks a decent bet, even though they don’t need to win to progress. Buoyed by home support, Ukraine will prove tough opponents, but France exposed their limitations during their 2-0 win on Friday evening.

There were lapses against Sweden, but England’s steady defensive unit should be able to handle whatever Ukraine can throw at it, while unleashing Rooney on a side which has managed just one clean sheet in eight attempts will worry the co-hosts.

In four previous meetings, England have won three and lost one. The defeat came on their only previous visit to Ukraine, in a 2010 World Cup qualifier, but there were mitigating factors, including a red card for Robert Green after just 14 minutes – and Fabio Capello playing Emile Heskey for the full 90.

I’m expecting a low-scoring England victory, with the 1-0 correct score a tempting 15/2 with Coral, and a sell of goals at 2.65 with Sporting Index recommended. Of England’s last nine games, six have seen two goals or under.

On the back of his horrific new haircut, Sporting Index are offering a Rooney headed goal minutes market and the spread is 3-6 minutes. There have already been an unusually high number of headers scored at this tournament and I expect they’ll see plenty of buyers with such a small downside.

● Pointers…
England to win at 11/10 with Coral
England to win 1-0 at 15/2 with Coral
Sell goals with Sporting Index at 2.65