England's disappointing Euro 2012 campaign came to all-too common end. Penalties. Although I didn't expect England to survive 90 minutes when previewing the game, there is no doubt the better side came through in the end and both Daniele De Rossi and Mario Balotelli had chances to win the game in normal time.
Roy Hodgson's side did little to impress me in their 4 games, but here are the 4 England players I was really disappointed with in the tournament:
He's young and he scored the winner versus Sweden. Granted. But the Manchester United striker did little else either side of that goal. In fact, that goal against Sweden which was either fortunate or a genius touch, was Welbeck's only shot on target in this tournament. In 4 games, 322 minutes on the pitch and 4 shots at goal, Danny Welbeck failed to trouble any goalkeeper other than Andreas Isaksson. This was England's main striker throughout the competition, and a player who missed a number of good chances in the Premier League last season. He made a couple of runs at defenders, but given he came up against what wasn't a very strong French defence, a slow Swedish defence and a poor Ukrainian defence in the group stages alone, I was expecting much more from a player Sir Alex Ferguson has shown faith in.
Coming off of a Premier League title winning season, James Milner has been hit and miss with England fans. More misses than hits in this tournament. As the right winger, albeit playing out of his natural position of central midfield, Milner did very little to threaten defences. He was actually a bigger threat to his own goal against France when he under hit a pass back to Joe Hart that nearly setup Samir Nasri. The Manchester City midfielder conceded possession a few too many times, completed a low percentage of his passes and created next-to-nothing for his team mates. He did his bit defensively with a number of tackles, but the only goal England conceded from open play in this tournament came against their right hand side. Milner put no pressure on any of the players in the build up to that French goal and instead kept backing off towards his own goal.
Alan Dzagoev scored 3 goals in his first 2 games at Euro 2012. Mario Mandzukic too. Wayne Rooney was given just over 200 minutes to impress in this tournament and failed dismally. I cannot rule out that he too scored 1 goal in this competition and was well-placed for it. But did rely on a goalkeeping blunder to set up his header from a couple of inches out. Other than that, he looked rusty as he gave away possession several times and had a number of bad first touches. Failed to get a shot on target in the 120 minutes against Italy, but I suppose I can give him some reprieve in that he actually converted his spot kick in the shoot-out. That's 3 successive international tournaments Wayne Rooney has failed to make an impact since being one of the stars of Euro 2004.
With his England form prior to the tournament and coming off a successful first season with Manchester United in the Premier League, I was expecting a lot from Ashley Young in this tournament. He took on very few players, and his only accurate cross was headed wide by Wayne Rooney. Everything else failed to find a team mate. Failed to create many chances for his team mates, despite playing alongside both Rooney and Danny Welbeck who he'd linked up well with at club level. Didn't come close to scoring and his missed penalty was the start of England's downfall in their quarter-final penalty shoot-out.