Ice-cool Cole helps England progress
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
A cool-headed performance from England left-back Ashley Cole ensured he topped the Castrol EDGE Index as Roy Hodgson's men edged past Ukraine in Donetsk to finish top of Group D.
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With England heading into the lion's den, taking on co-hosts Ukraine on their own turf at the Donbass Arena, a strong defensive performance was a necessity and it was their most experienced man at the back, Ashley Cole, who shone bright to claim his place at the top of the Castrol EDGE Index.
The Chelsea FC left-back, awarded a rating of 9.51, was a calming influence in the England back line as they came under pressure for long periods against a side who had to win to progress. Cole's excellent rating was a result of regular possession recovery, the defender winning back the ball on four occasions and blocking a series of Ukrainian efforts.
Facing up to the dangerous duo of winger Andriy Yarmolenko and attacking right-back Yevhen Selin, the 31-year-old covered 10.4km to restrict the threat down the England left which was a key contributor to the clean sheet which secured the 1-0 win and progress as Group D leaders.
As well as excelling in his defensive duties, the full-back made an impact at the other end. After winning the ball in the Ukraine area, his low second-half effort was sneaking in only for Andriy Pyatov to turn it around the post. Without Pyatov's intervention, that might have been the end of his record goal drought, Cole having now gone 97 outfield appearances without an England strike. Gary Neville set the previous high mark of 85.
Wayne Rooney was second on the Index as his goal, and three further efforts, earned him a score of 9.18, edging into third England defender John Terry who earned his rating of 9.07 thanks mainly to a goal-saving clearance off the line which kept his side in front.
Castrol EDGE Index: England v Ukraine
1. Ashley Cole (ENG) 9.51
2. Wayne Rooney (ENG) 9.18
3. John Terry (ENG) 9.07
4. Yarolsav Rakitiskiy (UKR) 8.60
5. Joe Hart (ENG) 8.32
0 – Ukraine are still to win an international match in Donetsk. The run now stretches to seven games, of which they have lost five, scoring in only two of them.
6 – England have now scored with their first effort on target in six of their last eight UEFA European Championship finals matches.
6 – England have won six matches by a 1-0 scoreline in 2011/12, more than any previous season in their history.
673 – Wayne Rooney's goal ended a run of 673 minutes without finding the net at a major championship.
Steven Gerrard: "We came into this group, a difficult group, and the idea was to try and win it. No one believed in us at the start, but we’re gaining momentum as we go along. The performance wasn’t fantastic but we worked hard and got the result."