'The cross arrived low and flat, as has been his style at this tournament. It took a nick here, a glance there, confounded Andriy Pyatov in Ukraine's goal and there was England's returning hero, the target in front of him like an old barn door off its hinges, just waiting to be headed in.
'To Wayne Rooney the glory, but to Steven Gerrard the credit. He has a Champions League final as good as named in his honour, an FA Cup final victory, too. And perhaps this is going to be Gerrard's European Championship campaign.
'It is Italy in Kiev next for England - Spain have been sidestepped - and while there is no such thing as an easy quarter-final opponent at this tournament, any game that does not necessitate beating the world champions is to be welcomed. And while this is every inch a team effort, it is hard to deny the huge part being played in England's progress by Gerrard.
'He has been the architect and inspiration of this revival in the most trying circumstances under Roy Hodgson. Rooney's goal was the third he had set up in as many games: one secured a point against France, one beat the hosts, one found the head of Andy Carroll as if guided by NASA technology against Sweden. Put simply, Gerrard has been quite brilliant here this summer. He has been the player we have been waiting for; the player we have only truly seen with this consistency in the red of Liverpool' - Martin Samuel in The Daily Mail.
'England conceded a goal that was as authentic as the one they were denied in the World Cup two years ago and they suffered a night of searing pressure from a Ukrainian team who had been told by their legendary coach Oleg Blokhin to play with greater freedom than they had ever felt before.
'They did it with blistering football that stretched through a night of roaring passion and often fine skill but they couldn't beat England. Long before the end you had to suspect that nothing could. Maybe they have made some weird arrangement with fate. Maybe the new manager Roy Hodgson has a trick, an insight that is releasing England on the international stage and one that he can reveal later at his leisure and in some improbable triumph.
'For the moment, maybe he should just offer his thanks that some mysterious force, including maybe his own good judgement, allowed him to escape from something that should always be known as the siege of Donetsk' - James Lawton in The Independent.
'It was probably not the goal that Wayne Rooney visualised in those pre-match dreams that he uses to build his confidence. But who cared about that?
'This was not about beauty or excellence. The fantasy came in the drama, and the significance, of the moment as Rooney headed a three-times deflected cross into the Ukraine net from all of a yard. Scrappy, yes. But it might just have felt like the sweetest goal of Rooney's life.
'He had not just been waiting the month since he last started a game, or the two games he had missed at Euro 2012 through suspension. This one had been eight long years in coming since Rooney's last goal for England at a leading tournament, way back when his hair did not need daily maintenance and he wore a T-shirt with "once a Blue, always a Blue" on the front.
'As Rooney nodded home, we were reminded of the day Graham Gooch famously turned to Ian Botham after the great all-rounder returned from a ban for smoking marijuana and took a wicket with his first ball, a loosener. "Who writes your scripts?" Gooch asked' - Matt Dickinson in The Times.
'Roy Hodgson seems to have decided that the most effective way to get Rooney playing at his best as quickly as possible is to tell him, via repeated public pronouncements, that the team's fortunes depend on him. It is an interesting approach, and the manager must have given it a great deal of thought. During the buildup to the match he even likened Rooney's potential contribution to the way Pelé inspired Brazil to their tournament victories. "Let's hope that Wayne Rooney can start to do that for us on Tuesday night," he said. "Then, if we win, who knows? If Wayne can produce his best, then he can help us keep going even further."
'Sven-Goran Eriksson was the first England manager to make the comparison, noting the way the 18-year-old Rooney's impact on the Euro 2004 finals resembled that of the Brazilian on the 1958 World Cup at the same age. Rooney, however, is still waiting to transfer that promise into achievement; last night he was winning his 75th cap and, at 26-years-old, was hoping that his fourth appearance in a major tournament would finally be the one to justify the reputation' - Richard Williams in The Guardian.
'Never in doubt, not for a second. Now it is Italy in Kiev on Sunday, not Spain back here in Donetsk 24 hours earlier.
'While England's best player last night, better even than John Terry, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole, Joe Hart or Steven Gerrard, was Lady Luck, the cruel mistress who has turned her back on the Three Lions so often, something special is stirring. A belief that, for once, things are going England's way, not against them.
'That with the goalscoring return of Wayne Rooney, ending his eight years without a tournament goal with the simple header that made England Group D winners, Roy Hodgson and his team have a man who can make the difference' - Martin Lipton in The Daily Mirror.
'England top of the pile, Spain dodged and Rooney scoring the winner. Who makes this stuff up? England thrive on chaos, without the ball, often, and now with the help of match officials who fail to see a Ukrainian attempt cross the line.
'Yes, England have borrowed Chelsea's luck at Euro 2012. And on Tuesday night they reclaimed their most potent asset, prompting Steven Gerrard, the England captain, to say: "Wayne took all the pressure on his shoulders when we needed him to. Sometimes a tap-in is as important as a 30-yarder."
'Sent off in the 2006 World Cup and listless in South Africa four years later, Rooney was forced by his own irascibility in a qualifying game in Montenegro to wait until the third game of this championship for his chance to be England's saviour' - Paul Hayward in The Daily Telegraph.
'Let's just hope we haven't used up all our good fortune in one game. Last night's victory certainly will not make England any more popular out here in a tournament where they are not exactly winning over the neutrals. You can imagine the locals will be turning up in Kiev on Sunday to cheer on Italy.
'England finished top of Group D, after France failed to get what looked like a regulation win over Sweden in Kiev, and so sidestepped a return trip to Donetsk on Saturday for a meeting with world and European champions Spain.
'But they will have to produce a performance we have yet to see from them out here to get past Italy. English fans will be delighted to have avoided Spain but they should not get too carried away' - Steven Howard in The Sun.