Wayne Rooney marked his return with the winning goal as England overcame co-hosts Ukraine to reach the European Championship quarter final.

Rooney headed England ahead just three minutes after half-time, a decisive strike as Roy Hodgson's men cruised into the last-eight.

Ukraine, who dominated possession for much of the contest, will feel aggrieved after Marko Devic's effort was wrongly ruled out after John Terry's goal line clearance.

Wayne Rooney
Rooney scored England's winner. Reuters

The effort was Oleh Blokhin's side's final genuine foray into England's defensive third as they ran out of steam in the twilight of the game.

Andriy Shevchenko, who had scored Ukraine's only two goals of the tournament so far, started on the bench after fears over a knee injury, and couldn't make a significant contribution come his introduction in the closing minutes.

England will now face Italy in the first knockout stage, after topping group D ahead of France, who progress despite a humbling defeat to already eliminated Sweden.

The French only needed to match England's result in Donetsk to qualify as group winners, but saw second half goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Seb Larsson end their 23-match unbeaten run and temper their expectations for the last-eight.

Laurent Blanc's side face the daunting task of taking on reigning World and European champions Spain in the quarter final, with worries over the form of a number of their key performers.

But in finishing top of the group, England have exceeded pre-tournament expectations and will go into their meeting with Italy, with Rooney in toe, with every chance of reaching their first semi-final at a major tournament for 16 years.

Yet again, England's performance was built on stubborness at the back and ruthlessness in the final third, and after a first half where they soaked by ample Ukraine pressure; they struck crucially after the interval.

Steven Gerrard, who created England's first two goals of the finals, was again the provider, with his cross taking two deflections, before being fumbled by goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov into the path of the oncoming Rooney, who nodded into a empty net.

Chances thereafter were few and far between for England, as they chose to sit deep amid Ukraine's continuous possession, and Devic will be thinking what if after his goalbound effort was wrongly disallowed, following Terry's last ditch clearance.

But the decision did nothing to diminish England's win, with Hodgson now looking forward to pitting hit wits against one of world footballs grandest names.