By Georgina Turner
June 19, 2012

"With extra officials you're aware of more things: the fear of getting caught is there. There's no more shirt-pulling, players know that the referee is there." At this point in his interview with Sky Sports, Michel Platini was doing reasonably well. We haven't seen the kind of holdups at set pieces, caused by pushing and shoving, to which we've become accustomed in club matches. Then, warming to the tune he was parping on UEFA's trumpet, Platini added an extra long note of satisfaction. "With five, officials see everything." If he hadn't already been reassessing his feelings on the matter, today's play might have forced him to.

The debate is ongoing as to whether Ukraine, beaten 1-0 and eliminated by England in Donetsk on Tuesday evening (RECAP | HONIGSTEIN), was denied a Marko Devic goal that John Terry hooked clear only after it had crossed the line, or whether Artem Milevskiy should have been flagged offside the moment he received the long pass that started the move, rendering the phantom goal irrelevant. Either way, the conversation is hardly a ringing endorsement for any of the officials -- but especially the fourth and fifth, added by UEFA to monitor each of the goals. The day ended with the Ukraine coach, Oleg Blokhin, asking the press "what is the fifth referee for?" before offering a dissenting journalist outside to talk about it "man to man."


For England, denied a goal against Germany at the last World Cup, the incident provides a convenient focal point -- Karma! Revenge! -- after a not-entirely-convincing performance that takes it through to face Italy. Once again there are ripe and juicy conversations about goal-line technology to be had. (On which note: how would strikes like Devic's be handled? Play would have continued, even for a bit, before the ball was proven to have crossed the line; what if there's another incident? Once we do that, why not have a video review for offsides? That's not an argument for continuing without the technology, but it's a question the authorities will have to answer.) No such luck for Laurent Blanc, whose French side progressed but was well beaten by Sweden 2-0 (RECAP | MARCOTTI) and now has to regroup before facing Group C winner Spain in the quarterfinal.

"Qualification was the objective, but that was not the way," said Blanc. Looking ahead to Spain, he said: "It will have to be better." That, presumably, will involve getting the starting XI right; first things first, Jeremy Menez, who made an impact off the bench he was inexplicably sat on for the first 77 minutes, must be in it.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a way of casting his eye over people that says, "You are not worthy of the sight of me." And on days like this, he's got a point; the goal he scored against France was too good for the naked eye. Adjusting to Sebastian Larsson's right-wing delivery, he jumped into the air and was virtually horizontal when his right foot connected, perfectly, with the ball and sent it past Hugo Lloris and into the net.

This one has to go to Wayne Rooney, who responded to jibes about his grow-in-a-jar hair with good humor by celebrating England's winner, nodded in off his re-thatched head, by miming a spray-on action.

By halftime, Sweden-France had not really flickered into life; each side had coped with what little the other had thrown at it. Sweden boss Erik Hamren made an influential switch at the interval, though, swapping out Emir Bajrami and replacing him with Christian Wilhelmsson. The effect was immediate and lasting, with Wilhelmsson making life difficult for Mathieu Debuchy from that point on. It was his neat touch that kept the ball in play just before Ibrahimovic's goal, too.

3/3 -- Steven Gerrard has three assists in three games for England, putting him level with Spain's David Silva and Russia's Andriy Arshavin.

We have a day's break from play before the quarterfinals. Here's the schedule (all 2:45 p.m. ET starts):

Thursday: Czech Republic vs. Portugal

Friday: Germany vs. Greece

Saturday: Spain vs. France

Sunday: England vs. Italy

The winners of the first and third quarterfinals will meet in the first semifinal, on June 27, with the winners of the second and fourth quarterfinal meeting a day later. We'll have live and interactive coverage of all the games here on

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