x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 August 2017

Euro 2012: Theo Walcott surprised himself with goal

The England midfielder backs ‘world-class’ Rooney to make an impact, while Ukraine coach has harsh words for his players.

Theo Walcott scored the equaliser to draw England level 2-2 with Sweden, before supplying the winner for Danny Welbeck.
Theo Walcott scored the equaliser to draw England level 2-2 with Sweden, before supplying the winner for Danny Welbeck.

Theo Walcott admitted he never realised he could score goals straight out of the Cristiano Ronaldo scrapbook.

It had been almost four years since Walcott last scored for his country, that never-to-be forgotten hat-trick in Croatia.

Now he has something almost equally spectacular to go alongside that memorable day thanks to his dipping equaliser in last night's 3-2 win over Sweden that leaves England requiring just a point from their final game against co-hosts Ukraine on Tuesday to reach the last eight.

"I surprised myself," said Walcott.

"During warm-up I put three goals in the top corner past Jack Butland and he wasn't too happy about it.

"I thought the shot took a deflection which is why my celebration was little bit odd.

"But I've seen it again and it didn't.

"I didn't know I had that sort of Ronaldo dip in me. I should try it more often.

"To score is special, not just for me but for my family watching back home. I have finally got the monkey off my back."

But Walcott's contribution did not end there.

He was also responsible for the cross Danny Welbeck brilliantly turned home 12 minutes from time to give England victory.

"That chance was massive but Danny made it look easy," said Walcott.

"It was class, probably one of the best goals at this tournament and I am not just saying that because he's my friend.

"That goal had everything and shows that despite being at such a young age he can do it."

Manager Roy Hodgson has already declared his intention to recall Wayne Rooney, who has now served his two-match suspension.

However, between them, Welbeck and Carroll have proved their firepower extends to more than just one man.

"I am sure Wayne will get his opportunity," said Walcott.

"He'll want to make up for time he's missed and make it up to all the lads.

"He is such a world-class player. It would be tough to leave him out but that's the manager's decision. We'll see what happens."

In the night's other match Oleg Blokhin, the Ukraine coach, had some stinging criticism for his players basking in the glory of their opening Group D victory as defeat against France yesterday left them struggling to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Second-half goals from Jeremy Menez and Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye, with his first international strike, gave the French a comfortable win to put them top of the group.

And, after the euphoria of their win over Sweden the co-hosts now have to beat England to progress.

"As I said, the win against Sweden didn't mean anything, so if we thought we were through, we were wrong," said Blokhin after a match which was halted after five minutes because of a severe thunderstorm and was not restarted for almost an hour.

"I think some players thought that and we'll have a serious conversation with them.

"This European Championship isn't the Ukrainian league we have to play at a higher level and game after game.

"I didn't like how my team stopped playing after the second goal but we lost and France are one of the best teams in the competition.

"Everything went wrong from the break and that led to first goal. "After that, we conceded the second and it was all over.

"We will analyse this. Of course, we are not happy. The fans aren't happy and nor am I. But I can't change anything; I can't change the result.

"We still have one game left against England and we need to prepare properly for that."

France coach Laurent Blanc was relieved his side ended their record-breaking winless run at major tournaments after eight games without victory in finals.

"We'll enjoy this one. As the French know very well, it's been a long time since we won a game at a major tournament," he said.

"We're very happy to have won. Six years in major competitions and to not win a game is a long time.

"I hope our next win isn't in six years. If it is, then I want be here to talk about it because I'll have been fired long before."

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