Lackluster, but England and France to play on

WARSAW, Poland — England and France failed to impress but still advanced to the European Championship quarterfinals Tuesday amid yet another goal-line controversy.

England striker Wayne Rooney returned after a two-match ban to score in the 48th minute and secure a 1-0 win over Ukraine, a result which eliminated the Euro 2012 co-hosts.

However, Ukraine was denied an equalizer when the Hungarian match officials ruled Marko Devic’s 62nd-minute shot had not crossed the line, despite replays indicating it had.

France progressed as Group D runner-up despite being beaten 2-0 by Sweden, which lost its first two matches. Forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored with a stunning volley in the 54th, and Sebastian Larsson scored the second in stoppage time.

France will next play defending champion Spain on Saturday in Donetsk, while England will face a revitalized Italy in Kiev on Sunday. With the group stage over, Portugal will face the Czech Republic on Thursday in Warsaw in the first quarterfinal match. Germany will face Greece on Friday in Gdansk.

In his first competitive match in more than a month, Rooney looked rusty in the first half in Donetsk when he headed wide from close range.

He was decisive when a right-flank cross by Steven Gerrard, which deflected off two Ukraine players and was fumbled by the goalkeeper, found Rooney at the back post for a simple close-range header.

Still, Rooney’s victorious return will likely be knocked off the headlines by a revival of soccer’s ongoing debate over the need for technology to help referees make accurate decisions.

England coach Roy Hodgson said he “was led to believe that it probably was” over the line.

Devic’s shot beat goalkeeper Joe Hart and looped toward goal. England defender John Terry chased down the ball and stretched to kick it up and out of the goalmouth.

Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai allowed play to continue after being advised by his assistant standing directly beside the goal that the ball did not cross the line.

“The ref is there to make the decision, he has made the decision. One-nil,” Hart said.

France reached the quarterfinals despite its 23-game unbeaten streak ending. Needing a draw to be sure of progressing, the French were outplayed for much of the game but advanced anyway because of England’s win.

Ibrahimovic completed an impressive tournament, despite his team’s earlier defeats, by striking a perfect volley from Larsson’s cross.

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris then single-handedly kept his team in the game, making point-blank saves to deny Christian Wilhelmsson and Olof Mellberg.

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